On Tuesday, Kenosha County district attorney Michael Graveley announced that his office would not press charges against Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha police officer who shot and paralyzed the unarmed Jacob Blake in August. “It is my decision now that no Kenosha law enforcement officer will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and laws,” the district attorney said during a press conference. Graveley claims his decision was based on reviewing over 40 hours of squad video and over 1,500 pages of reports.
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by Sheskey in front of his children as he walked back towards his vehicle after apparently attempting to break up an argument between two women. He was paralyzed from the waist down after one of the bullets severed his spinal cord. Sheskey, a 31-year-old white man, has been on administrative leave from the Kenosha police department pending an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice since shooting Blake on August 23rd.
After the district attorney’s announcement, the Blake family attorney and co-counsels released a statement expressing their disappointment in the decision not to press charges.
“We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice. Officer Sheskey’s actions sparked outrage and advocacy throughout the country, but the District Attorney’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Jacob in the back multiple times, leaving him paralyzed, further destroys trust in our justice system. This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country.”
Blake’s shooting happened in the midst of a summer full of demonstrations over police violence against Black people and the carceral state, and soon the streets of Kenosha were flooded with protestors and police in riot gear. It was during a protest over the shooting of Blake that cop-loving vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shot three people, two of whom died.
On Monday, Jacob Blake Sr. told reporters that their family would take their case to the federal level if necessary.
“This has to be federally heard, not just for my son, but for everyone who suffered police brutality. Everyone. We can’t sit around anymore. We can’t wait.”