Wisconsin Public Radio

Kenosha DA Won’t Charge Cops in Blake Shooting

Jacob Blake's family, supporters have called for peaceful protests.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jan 5th, 2021 04:01 pm
Kenosha, Wis., police officers are seen near the edge of a rally calling for justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer. Photographed on Aug. 29, 2020. File photo by Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Kenosha, Wis., police officers are seen near the edge of a rally calling for justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer. Photographed on Aug. 29, 2020. File photo by Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced Tuesday he will not charge any of the Kenosha police officers involved in the August 2020 shooting of Jacob Blake.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Graveley said he looked at what evidence would be admissible in a jury trial and what would be sufficient to get a conviction before making his decision.

“I feel inadequate for this moment, I have never in my life had to contend with implicit bias because of my race,” Graveley said. “I have also not gone to a work shift knowing that I could face armed persons knowing they could end my life.”

Gravely said what he does have is nearly three decades as a prosecutor.

“This is a tragedy for all of those who loved Jacob Blake,” Graveley said, adding that he called Blake a few minutes before the press conference. “I have thought several times, and had a conversation today about his children in the vehicle. And have thought about the impact to seeing those gunshots would be in their futures.”

Blake, a Black man, was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, on Aug. 23 while Sheskey and two other officers were trying to arrest him for an outstanding sexual assault warrant. Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down. In November, the state dropped the sexual assault charges against Blake.

Following the shooting, Kenosha erupted in days of protest, sometimes leading to violence. The protests to the shooting prompted right-wing backlash, with armed groups taking to the streets. On Aug. 25, then-17-year-old Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse shot three protesters, killing two of them. Rittenhouse has since been charged in Kenosha County with multiple counts, including homicide, endangerment and being a minor in possession of a firearm. Prosecutors allege Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.

On Monday, Gov. Tony Evers mobilized approximately 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to active duty in advance of the Sheskey charging decision. Graveley announced his decision at a location provided to reporters within an hour before the press conference.

Graveley’s decision took five months. In many district attorney’s offices across the country, a decision to charge an officer would have been made within weeks. That’s due, in part, to another police shooting in Kenosha 16 years ago that led to Wisconsin being one of the first states to require an independent investigation in such cases. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul led the investigation before turning his findings over to Graveley to make a charging decision.

According to state investigators, Kenosha police were called to an apartment by a woman on Aug. 23, saying her boyfriend was violating a restraining order.

Officers tried to arrest 29-year-old Blake and used a Taser on him twice. Blake was trying to get into his vehicle when Sheskey, holding onto Blake’s shirt, shot him in the back. Sheskey is a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department.

Internal reports show Sheskey was reprimanded five times over the course of his career with the Kenosha Police Department, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Three times in three years for crashing his squad car, and twice for his actions at traffic stops, although the reviews found he did not violate department policy.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Patrick A. Salvi II and B’Ivory LaMarr released a statement saying they feel the decision failed Blake and the community.

“This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country,” the statement says. “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.”

On Monday, Blake’s family held a press conference. His father, Jacob Blake Sr, said he wanted Sheskey charged with attempted murder.

“He tried to kill my son. He didn’t try to take my son down, he tried to kill my son, he tried to kill my grandchildren,” Blake Sr said.

The Blake family said they won’t stop making noise — and won’t stop in Kenosha.

“We have to be heard, we can’t sit around anymore, we can’t wait,” Blake Sr said.

At the evening press conference where people held candles, the Blake family and supporters called for peaceful protests, regardless of the decision.

“No matter what the decision is, we are for non-violence. We want people to come out, make as much noise as you want, but we don’t want any destruction of property, businesses. We don’t want anyone harmed,” said Tanya McLean, with Leaders of Kenosha, according to WISN-12.

Kenosha County DA Won’t Charge Police Officers In Jacob Blake Shooting was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

More about the Kenosha Shooting

Read more about Kenosha Shooting here

More about the Kenosha Unrest

Read more about Kenosha Unrest here

More about the Shooting of Jacob Blake

Read more about Shooting of Jacob Blake here

2 thoughts on “Kenosha DA Won’t Charge Cops in Blake Shooting”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    My guess is the Kenosha DA is protecting his white supremacist core in the police department.

  2. tornado75 says:

    i don’t understand this decision, but i doubt it is for the reason that ‘godz……. whatever, states.

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