Federal prosecutors announced Friday that they won’t file charges against a white police officer who shot Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last year.
Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, who is Black, during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha in August 2020. The shooting left 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 Sheskey earlier this year after video showed that Blake had been armed with a knife. He was wanted on a felony warrant.
The U.S. 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 U.S. 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 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. 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 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 Sheskey tried to stop him by pulling on his shirt. Graveley said video shows Blake turning toward Sheskey with a knife and made a motion toward the officer with the knife.
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