In a highly-anticipated decision nationwide, the Kenosha district attorney announced Tuesday afternoon that he will decline to bring charges against the officer who shot Jacob Blake last August.
Kenosha County will not bring charges against police officer Rusten Sheskey in the shooting that paralyzed Blake and ignited protests across the country, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced during a live press conference Tuesday afternoon.
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Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back by Sheskey as he entered his car Aug. 23 after the Kenosha Police Department responded to a domestic incident. Blake was paralyzed from the waist down due to his injuries. Sheskey was placed on administrative leave following the shooting.
Graveley said he felt “in many ways completely inadequate for this moment” as he announced his decision to not file charges.
“I have never in my life had a moment where I’ve had to contend with explicit or implicit bias based on my race,” Graveley said. “I have never had a moment in my life where I’ve had to fear for my safety either with police officers or people in authority.”
In explaining his decision, Graveley said Blake had a knife during the attack and also claimed that officers believed Blake did not respond to the other tactics — including tasers — that were used on him.
Additionally, Graveley said the officers involved knew Blake had a felony warrant out for his arrest and were left without discretion on whether or not to confront Blake.
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“There was no discretion in this regard,” Graveley said, referring to the officers’ decision to confront Blake.
Blake’s lawyer Ben Crump said they are “immensely disappointed” in Graveley’s decision to not press charges in a statement he made on Twitter. Crump said the decision failed not only Blake and his family, but also those across the country who protested for justice.
Crump also said on Twitter that they will continue to press forward with their own investigation in order to “fight for systemic change in policing and transparency at all levels.” Crump encouraged individuals to raise their voices to demand change in peaceful and positive ways.
“This isn’t the news we hoped for, but our work is not done and hope is not lost,” Crump said on Twitter. “We must broaden the fight for justice on behalf of Jacob Blake and the countless other Black victims of racial injustice and police brutality.”
In anticipation of potential unrest following the decision, the Kenosha County Council passed a resolution to allow Mayor John Antaramian the power to set city-wide curfews for eight days after the announcement, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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Gov. Tony Evers also mobilized 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to aid local law enforcement with potential unrest upon their request, Evers said in a statement released Monday.
“We are continuing to work with our local partners in the Kenosha area to ensure they have the state support they need, just as we have in the past,” Evers said. “Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary.”