• Wed. May 12th, 2021

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Kenosha officer who shot Jacob Blake won’t face discipline, police chief says

The Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a Black man who was paralyzed from the waist down after the shooting in August, has returned to work and will not face discipline, the police department announced Tuesday.

The officer, Rusten Sheskey, returned from administrative leave in late March. He was “found to have been acting within policy and will not be subjected to discipline,” according to a statement Tuesday from Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis.

The determination was made after an outside investigation and an independent expert review, the statement said.

“Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I understand that some will not be pleased with the outcome; however, given the facts, it was the only lawful and appropriate decision to be made,” Miskinis said.

Sheskey was not charged. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley told reporters in January that Sheskey and other officers would have had a strong case for self-defense.

“If you don’t believe you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have an ethical obligation not to issue charges,” Graveley said at the time.

Blake filed a federal complaint against Sheskey, the only defendant, seeking unspecified damages last month.

Police initially released few details about the shooting, saying the officers were responding to a domestic incident. But bystander video posted online received national attention.

In the video, Blake appeared to be walking away from officers and had opened the front driver’s side door when he was shot from behind. Authorities said Sheskey and another officer tried to use their stun guns on Blake but could not stop him.

Blake was near a knife when he was shot, state prosecutors have said, and a blade was found in the footwell of the vehicle. Raysean White, the bystander who recorded the video, said he heard police yelling “drop the knife!” but never saw Blake armed with a blade.

Kenosha police officers were not equipped with body cameras at the time of the shooting.

It was previously believed that Blake had been shot seven times in the back, but further examination of Blake’s medical records found that he had three entrance wounds on his left side and four shots to his back, Graveley said in January after it was announced that the officers would not be charged.

He said that while it is “absolutely appropriate” to ask whether seven shots is excessive, Sheskey said he continued to fire until the “threat” stopped as part of his training.

The shooting occurred only a few months after George Floyd died while officers tried to arrest him in Minneapolis last summer. Four officers have been charged in connection with Floyd’s death, and one is standing trial on charges of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Blake’s shooting renewed a wave of protests in Kenosha and around the country demanding police reform following highly publicized cases of Black people’s being severely injured or killed by police.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.