KENOSHA — A Kenosha police officer will not be charged in the August shooting of Jacob Blake, the Kenosha County District Attorney announced Tuesday.
The District Attorney made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. D.A. Michael Graveley said his office would not recommend charges against Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey.
Sheskey shot Blake multiple times in the back on Aug. 23. Officers had responded to the scene near 40th and 28th Street on a "domestic incident" call.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is the investigating agency, said Sheskey and several other Kenosha officers were attempting to arrest Blake at the time. Blake walked away from officers and was attempting to get into an SUV at the scene when he was shot.
According to officials, Blake admitted there was a weapon in the vehicle, but it was unclear if he was reaching for it or not during the incident. Prior to the shooting, Blake was tased twice by Sheskey and another officer.
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An investigation launched by the DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigation following the shooting has since found that Blake admitted to having a knife in his possession during the incident. DCI agents later found a knife in the driver’s side floorboard of Blake's vehicle. No other weapons were found.
Sheskey, Officer Vincent Arenas, and Officer Brittany Meronek were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday mobilized 500 members of the Wisconsin National Guard to Kenosha.
In a statement, the governor said that local authorities requested the deployment. The city's Common Council also authorized an emergency declaration, which allows Mayor John Antaramian emergency authority, set to kick in once a charging decision is made.
The Aug. 23 shooting sparked nationwide protests, some turning violent.
Graveley said none of the officers involved in the shooting will face charges. He also added that Blake wouldn't be charged.
“This case has to be laser-focused on what a jury trial would look like," the DA said during Tuesday's press conference. “Those are the things that would be primary and almost none of those things would be answered by the deeply disturbing video that we have all seen.”
He continued: “It is absolutely incontrovertible that Jacob Blake was armed with a knife during this encounter.”
“We are immensely disappointed in Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley’s decision not to charge the officers involved in this horrific shooting," said Blake's attorneys in a statement. "We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice."
Attorneys Ben Crump, Patrick A. Salvi and B'Ivory LaMarr said Graveley's decision "further destroys trust in our justice system."
“Officer Sheskey’s actions sparked outrage and advocacy throughout the country, but the District Attorney’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Jacob in the back multiple times, leaving him paralyzed, further destroys trust in our justice system," said the attorneys. "This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country. It says it is OK for police to abuse their power and recklessly shoot their weapon, destroying the life of someone who was trying to protect his children."
Blake's family plans on holding a press conference and march at 4 p.m. in Kenosha.
City of Kenosha police confirm to TMJ4 News that the officers involved in the shooting remain on administrative leave.
Protests following decision
From the Associated Press -- As temperatures dipped near freezing Tuesday evening, about 20 protesters gathered and marched in an area north of downtown, chanting “No justice, no peace.” About 15 cars, some honking their horns, followed.
Vaun Mayer, a 33-year-old activist from Milwaukee who is Black, drove to Kenosha to protest. He said he didn’t expect the officer to be charged, calling Graveley’s decision just the latest in a line of prosecutors failing to charge police officers in Wisconsin.
“We’re used to this and we didn’t expect anything different than this,” he said.
At a downtown park near the courthouse where hundreds gathered in the days after Blake was shot, there was no sign of any large, organized protests. Abdullah Schabazz, 36, who said he came from nearby Waukegan, Illinois, to show solidarity with the Blake family, blamed the weather.
Kris Coleman, 36, of Kenosha, stood nearby livestreaming National Guard troops manning an intersection. He said the city appeared to be better prepared than it was during the summer. “And I’m happy,” he said. Later, a small group of protesters confronted Guard members briefly at the courthouse.