KENOSHA, WI – The Wisconsin police officer involved in the August 2020 shooting of Jacob Blake will not face any charges in connection with the incident, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced on Tuesday.
“It is my decision now that no Kenosha law enforcement officer will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and laws,” Graveley said.
Blake, 29, a Black man, was shot seven times on August 23 by a white Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey, who was responding to a domestic incident. Blake survived the shooting, which occurred in front of his three children, but was left paralyzed below the waist. The shooting led to mass protests and over 250 arrests in Kenosha over the course of several days following the incident.
The Blake shooting happened just three months after George Floyd died while being restrained by police officers in Minneapolis, a death that sparked outrage and protests that spread across the United States and beyond.
Graveley announced that the other two officers involved in the incident – Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek – would not be changed either, although all three officers would remain on administrative leave. It was also announced that Jacob Blake would not face any charges.
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Police had responded to a 911 call from a woman claiming to be Blake’s girlfriend, saying that he was not allowed to be at her residence; upon arriving at the scene, police attempted to subdue Blake – including the use of tasers – who allegedly fought with officers, including putting one in a headlock and reportedly brandishing a knife, officials say.
At one point during the scuffle, Blake – while still allegedly wielding the knife and ignoring police commands to drop it – opened the door to his vehicle, which contained his three children inside. Sheskey fired at Blake seven times when he leaned into the driver’s side door of the vehicle, reportedly hitting him four times.
At the time of the shooting, Blake had a warrant for his arrest for third-degree sexual assault, which he later pleaded not guilty to from his hospital bed.
Graveley said that he was not filing charges against Sheskey because of the difficulty in disproving his claim that he was protecting himself; the officer alleged that Blake turned towards an officer with a knife at the time of shooting, which was backed up by statements from several witnesses. In addition, a knife was found at the scene, officials say.