A Wisconsin district attorney on Tuesday declined to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in the police shooting of a Black man in his back at close range, including the cop who fired his gun.
Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by the Kenosha police in August. Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey is the one who fired off the shots that left the 29-year-old Black man paralyzed from the waist down.
According to one local reporter, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley based his decision against bringing any charges on what he said was a lack of proof that Sheskey was not truly defending himself, an incredulous proposition considering Blake had his back turned to the officer at the time of the shooting.
Kenosha DA said officers don’t have to prove self defense and his office would “have to disprove self defense”
— Ricardo🇨🇺 🇵🇷Torres (@RicoReporting) January 5, 2021
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Blake and his family, described Graveley’s decision as a travesty of justice in a statement emailed to NewsOne.
“We are immensely disappointed in Kenosha District Attorney Michael Gravely’s decision not to charge the officers involved in this horrific shooting. We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice,” Crump said in part.
“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. 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,” he added.
The Kenosha County DA, just announced there will be no criminal charges forRusten Sheskey who shot #JacobBlake repeatedly in his back as he walked away.
This case was not presented to a GJ. The so-called investigation was led by retired cops. Justice was not even attempted here. pic.twitter.com/6L7WOMQaMp
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) January 5, 2021
Crump urged people to keep protesting peacefully for justice and vowed to “press forward with a civil lawsuit and fight for systemic change in policing and transparency at all levels.”
Gravely reportedly shared his decision with Blake “minutes before” his press conference Tuesday.
Reactions to the decision were absent of any real surprise despite ongoing nationwide protests against police violence and racism, which has proven to be a disproportionately deadly combination when it comes to Black suspects, in particular.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, said he was not “shocked,” called Gravely “negligent” and suggested the DA was not in touch with reality when he made his decision.
What is video evidence anyway if they just watch it and interpret things other than reality?
Police accountability is one thing, but there’s a much deeper failure that allows a person to see the footage and ultimately determine nothing went wrong.
— Mandela Barnes (@TheOtherMandela) January 5, 2021
Gravely tried to justify his decision by insisting that Blake said he was armed with a knife at the time of the shooting. Of course, Blake never wielded the knife or tried to use it against the police, but that apparently is beside the point to Gravely.
Allegedly, the police e feared Blake was going to drive away with his children in the car. Gravely reminded reporters during the press conference that Blake has a history of domestic violence complaints.
Today’s announcement from Kenosha is shameful and disgusting, and only proves how much work still needs to be done. This is far too familiar to the Black community.
Jacob Blake’s life matters. Black Lives Matter.#JacobBlake
— Derrick Johnson (@DerrickNAACP) January 5, 2021
The decision came amid a string of deadly police shootings across the country, including one in Ohio that left a young Black man shot in the back because cops mistook the sandwiches he was holding for a weapon.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.