No charges against Kenosha officers in Jacob Blake shooting

    Blake decision
    Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announces no charges will be filed against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake in August. (Screenshot)

    The Kenosha County District Attorney announced Tuesday it will not be filing any charges against Kenosha Police officer Rusten Sheskey or any of the other officers involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23, 2020. 

    In a bystander cell phone video that almost immediately went viral on social media, Sheskey was seen shooting Blake seven times in the back. Blake remains in rehabilitation, paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting. 

    The Blake shooting kicked off days of protest and civil unrest in Kenosha which came at the height of the summer’s nationwide outpouring of protest against racial injustice and police violence

    Kenosha County DA Michael Graveley said his role was only to make a narrow legal decision over whether there was probable cause that the officers committed a crime. He said he made his decision after a “dramatically exhaustive investigation” by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. 

    “It is my decision now that I announced today before you that no Kenosha law enforcement officer in this case will be charged with any criminal offense, based on the facts and the laws,” Graveley said. 

    Graveley said if charges had been filed and gone to a jury trial, the facts of the case would largely have been undisputed — except for Sheskey’s claim to self-defense. 

    “The burden of proof is on the state in that situation,” he said. 

    While the officers will not face any criminal charges, Graveley said there is also a civil rights investigation into the shooting led by the U.S. Attorney’s office. 

    “Kenosha deserves a second legal opinion, other than my own,” Graveley said. 

    The decision not to charge any of the officers came the same day that Kyle Rittenhouse, the  Illinois teenager accused of killing two people and shooting another at protests over the Blake shooting, pleaded not guilty in Kenosha County circuit court.

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    Henry Redman
    Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.