On Tuesday, the Kenosha County, Wisconsin district attorney announced that the police officers who shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake would not face charges.
Jacob Blake, who is a Black man, was shot seven times in the back at close range. He was shot while walking away from Kenosha police officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call on August 23rd near 2800 40th St. A bystander captured Blake walking away from officers and about to get into his SUV when officer Rusten Sheskey began firing at him. Before the shooting, both Sheskey and fellow officer Vincent Arenas used tasers on Blake to no avail.
Raysean White, the bystander who captured the footage, said that he heard police shouting, “Drop the knife!” despite never seeing Blake holding a knife. The district attorney says that the video did not capture the multiple attempts to detain Blake.
“Multiple officers tried to grab his arms and try to secure him so he can be cuffed,” Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley “He admits at one point, ‘Officers were trying to handcuff me, but I was able to get up.'”
Graveley told reporters that Shesky would have a strong case for self-defense. He claims that since Blake had an active warrant out, had previously resisted arrest, and was at the center of a domestic dispute where children were involved, the officer had no choice but to shoot Blake while he attempted to flee with at least one child in the vehicle.
“If you don’t believe you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have an ethical obligation not to issue charges,” Graveley told reporters at a Tuesday press conference. Graveley said that he had shared his decision with Blake before telling the public.
Ben Crump, the lawyer representing Blake, slammed Graveley for failing to bring charges to the officers involved in Blake’s attempted murder.
“We are immensely disappointed in Kenosha District Attorney Michael Gravely’s [sic] decision not to charge the officers involved in this horrific shooting,” Crump said in a statement. “We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family but the community that protested and demanded justice.”
BREAKING: Kenosha DA Michael Gravely will NOT charge the officers involved in the August shooting of Jacob Blake. We are immensely disappointed and feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family but the community that protested and demanded justice.
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 5, 2021
A state of emergency was declared in Kenosha ahead of the decision. Graveley asked for peace before making the announcement.
“Can moments of tragedy like this be an opportunity to build things?” he pleaded.
Blake’s shooting, along with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, sparked massive protests over the summer in Kenosha and cities across the United States.