KENOSHA — The Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake last summer but was found to be acting within the law has returned to active duty.
Rusten Sheskey has been on administrative leave since August of 2020, when he shot Blake seven times during a domestic call in Kenosha. He will return to active duty without discipline, the police department announced Tuesday.
Following an investigation from an outside agency, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley decided to not file criminal charges against Sheskey, citing a lack of evidence showing the officer broke the law.
Blake remains in recovery at home, after injuries temporarily left him paralyzed from the waist down.
In a statement Tuesday, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis announced Sheskey had returned from administrative duty on March 31.
"Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome; however, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made," Miskinis said in the statement.
The announcement comes two weeks after Blake's attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Sheskey.
Sheskey was responding to a domestic call last August when he says he thought Blake was reaching for a knife, and could harm a child. That's when Sheskey opened fire, hitting Blake seven times in the back.
Blake and his legal team argue in the lawsuit that Officer Sheskey used excessive force, as a number of women and children were standing close by. Blake is represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, attorney Patrick A. Salvi II of Salvi Schostok and Pritchard, and attorney B’Ivory LaMarr of The LaMarr Firm, PLLC.
Two Wisconsin activist groups, Leaders of Kenosha and Wisconsin Working Families Party, issued a joint statement in response to Tuesday's update.
“The decision to put Rusten Sheskey back on our streets isn’t a slap in the face. It’s seven shots in the back of every Black and brown person in Kenosha, and the message is clear: your lives aren’t worth the effort," said Justin Blake and the Leaders of Kenosha. "For years, people in power have let outdated laws and piecemeal solutions prop up America’s racist culture of policing. President Biden promised the Blake family and Black and brown families across the country that he’d take bold action in his first 100 days. We expect him to end his silence on this and other recent police murders, and take action now."
“It’s not lost on anyone why Rusten Sheskey is walking free a day after Twin Cities police murdered Daunte Wright, or two weeks after Chicago police killed 13 year old Adam Toledo, or months after a global summer of protests over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade,” said Wisconsin Working Families Party organizer Jon Jarmon. “This was never just about consequences or convictions -- it’s about a culture of policing that allows officers to brutalize and murder Black and brown people with impunity. It will not be good enough for the administration to make strides in infrastructure, farming, jobs and the environment while leaving policing unchecked. Our neighborhoods shouldn’t kill us, and neither should our police.”