US won't seek charges against cop in Jacob Blake shooting

Federal prosecutors announce they won't file charges against white officer who shot Blake last year

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 27: Peaceful protesters march through downtown in solidarity with Jacob Blake on August 27, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Protests continued across the country Thursday night following the police shooting of Blake in Wisconsin.   Nathan Howard/Getty Images/AFP
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US federal prosecutors announced Friday that they won’t file charges against a white police officer who shot Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last year, which influenced widespread protests across the US.

Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Mr Blake, who is Black, during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha in August 2020. The shooting left Mr Blake paralyzed from the waist down and sparked several nights of protests. An Illinois man shot three people, killing two of them, during one of the demonstrations.

State prosecutors decided not to file charges against Mr Sheskey earlier this year after video showed that Mr Blake had been armed with a knife. He was wanted on a felony warrant.

The US Department of Justice launched its own investigation days after the shooting.

The agency announced Friday that a team of prosecutors from its Civil Rights Division and the US attorney’s office in Milwaukee reviewed police reports, witness statements, dispatch logs and videos of the incident, and determined there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Mr Sheskey used excessive force or violated Blake’s federal rights.

“Accordingly, the review of this incident has been closed without a federal prosecution,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

The Blake family’s attorney, Ben Crump, didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment. Mr Blake’s uncle Justin Blake, who has been acting as the family’s spokesman, also didn’t immediately respond to a message.

The Justice Department's findings mirror Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley's determination in January that Sheskey could successfully argue that he fired in self-defense.

Investigators found that Mr Blake had fought with three officers for several minutes before he was shot, at one point shrugging off a shock from a stun gun, and was trying to get into an SUV when Mr Sheskey tried to stop him by pulling on his shirt. Mr Graveley said video shows Mr Blake turning toward Mr Sheskey with a knife and made a motion toward the officer with the knife.

Updated: October 08, 2021, 9:31 PM