Kenosha isn't charging any police officers in the shooting of Jacob Blake
A police officer grabs at Blake’s shirt as Blake goes to get in his car in this still taken from a social media video. Twitter
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley on Tuesday failed to charge any officers in the August shooting of Jacob Blake.
Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake in the back seven times on August 23.
Blake’s shooting has resulted in major demonstrations this summer not only in downtown Kenosha but also nationwide.
Nearly five months after police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley failed to charge any officer with any crimes.
“It is my decision now that I announce today before you that no Kenosha law enforcement officer, in this case, will be charged with any criminal offense,” Graveley told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.
During his announcement and lengthy explanation of the decision, Graveley said he spoke to Blake on Tuesday, and also acknowledged his implicit bias and privilege as a white man.
“He is a father, a son, and a nephew. And I want to acknowledge and say that I really feel like the Blake family and Mr. Blake himself have tried to be real, truly positive forces in the community, asking the community to have peaceful but real dialogue about change that I think is necessary in this community, outlined by the issues exposed in this case,” Graveley said.
He said the investigation ahead of this decision included almost 200 separate law enforcement reports, 40 hours of squad video, hundreds of pages of electronic information, almost 1500 individual pages of police reports.
Ben Crump, a national civil rights attorney who is representing the Blake family, said in a statement that no charges on the officer who fired at Blake “further destroys trust in our justice system” and added that they will move forward with a civil lawsuit.
“We are immensely disappointed in Kenosha District Attorney Michael Gravely’s decision not to charge the officers involved in this horrific shooting. We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice,” Crump said.
He continued: “This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country. It says it is OK for police to abuse their power and recklessly shoot their weapon, destroying the life of someone who was trying to protect his children.”
What happened to Jacob Blake
Blake was shot seven times in the back on August 23, 2020, as police officers were investigating a domestic dispute. Sheskey was named as the officer who shot the 29-year-old. Blake’s shooting was caught on video and shared by Crump.
The disturbing video shows Blake being followed by Kenosha officers while trying to enter a car before being struck by multiple bullets, which resulted in him becoming paralyzed. Crump added that three of Blake’s sons were in the car at the time of the shooting. Days later, the Wisconsin Department of Justice alleged there was a knife inside the car.
Sheskey and the other officers involved were put on administrative leave following the incident, according to WLS-TV.
City officials prepare for civil unrest ahead of the decision
A person walks past a boarded-up grocery store, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis. AP Photo/Morry Gash
Kenosha prepared for possible civil unrest ahead of the DA’s decision, Kenosha News reported.
On Monday, Mayor John Antaramian and Police Chief Daniel Miskinis announced efforts “to ensure the safety of the public, neighborhoods, businesses, and protestors.”
Preparation efforts include road closures, curfew, fencing, limited bus routes, and a designated area for protestors, the statement said. According to Kenosha News, fencing was constructed around the courthouse and boards are being placed on local businesses.
As WLS-TV reported, the city council greenlit an “emergency declaration” and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized the National Guard.
“We are continuing to work with our local partners in the Kenosha area to ensure they have the state support they need, just as we have in the past,” Evers said in a statement. “Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary.”
Summer of protests
A protester shines a flashlight in the direction of Kenosha County Sheriffs Deputies outside the Kenosha Police Department in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., during protests following the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake August 23, 2020. Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY via REUTERS
The shooting of Blake caused an eruption of protests in downtown Kenosha calling for Justice for Jacob Blake.
Photos from the demonstrations show protestors facing off with law enforcement, fires, and local businesses damaged or vandalized. The protests continued in Kenosha for days and erupted in other cities like New York, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis, where police officers killed George Floyd in May.
During a demonstration on August 25, then-17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Illinois crossed state lines into Kenosha and fired at protestors with a rifle gun – killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz.
Grosskreutz and Huber’s estate is now seeking a combined $20 million from Kenosha officials for pain and suffering.
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