Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Police Donated to Officer that Shot Jacob Blake

A data breach of a Christian fundraising website revealed $5k in donations.

Police. Photo by Highway Patrol Images / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Police. Photo by Highway Patrol Images / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

A data breach at a crowdfunding site has revealed Wisconsin police officers and public officials donated to a fundraiser for Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha police officer who shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake.

The data, first reported by The Guardian and shared with Wisconsin Public Radio, found several instances of police officers donating to the “Support Rusten Sheskey” fundraiser on the Christian site GiveSendGo.

While the site allows anonymous giving, four of the donations were attached to work email addresses. Those include:

  • Green Bay police officer and training Lt. Chad Ramos gave $20 under the name “GBPD Officer,” and included the note, “Praying for your family.”
  • Green Bay school resource officer Lt. Keith Gehring gave $20.
  • Pleasant Prairie police officer Pat Gainer gave $50 under the name “PPPD Motor 179.” The donation included a message of “Stay strong brother.”
  • Pleasant Prairie police officer Sandi Thomey gave $50 under the name “Thomey #143,” her badge number.

The Guardian reports more than 30 additional donations — amounting to more than $5,000 — went to Sheskey using “private email addresses associated with Kenosha officers, but under badge numbers rather than names.”

When asked about the data breach, public information officer for the Kenosha Police Department Lt. Joseph Nosalik said there’s no evidence any Kenosha police officers used their government or work email addresses to make donations.

“This is yet another attempt by the media to stir the pot and make presumptuous statements,” he said, adding he had no further comment.

Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith said how police officers spend their money is personal. He added the city has rules about using city equipment or doing personal business while at work. And while the officers used their city emails to make the donations, Smith said he doesn’t know if they were made while the officers were on a break or after work.

Sheskey, who is white, shot Blake, who is Black, in August. The shooting sparked days of protests and destruction in Kenosha.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced in January he wouldn’t charge Sheskey or any of the other officers involved in the shooting.

The Blake family has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Sheskey.

Sheskey was placed on administrative leave after the shooting. He returned to active duty March 31. The Kenosha Police Department did not discipline the officer for the incident.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said Sheskey’s actions were “within the law and consistent with training.”

“This incident was also reviewed internally. Officer Sheskey was found to have been acting within policy and will not be subjected to discipline,” Miskinis wrote on Facebook. “Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome; however, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made.”

In a statement, Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, said Sheskey’s return to work was a “slap in the face.”

“For years, people in power have let outdated laws and piecemeal solutions prop up America’s racist culture of policing,” Justin Blake wrote. “President Biden promised the Blake family and Black and brown families across the country that he’d take bold action in his first 100 days. We expect him to end his silence on this and other recent police murders, and take action now.”

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

Data Breach Shows Wisconsin Police Officers Donated To Fundraiser For Kenosha Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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