No Charges Filed In Kenosha Incident; FDL County DA Says Evidence Shows Shooting Was Justified

Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey will face no criminal charges for the August shooting of Jacob Blake. Kenosha County DA Michael Gravely said:

“So it is our decision that no charge will be filed. I’m going to also tell you, because I think it is important, that no charge will be filed against Jacob Blake in regard to this incident as well.” 

Blake, who was left paralyzed after Sheskey shot him seven times in the back, had initially been accused of resisting arrest. An attorney for the Blake family said (quote) “We will continue to press forward with our own investigation and fight for systemic change in policing and transparency at all levels.” 

Shortly after the announcement was made in Kenosha, Fond du Lac County DA Eric Toney issued a statement regarding the decision, saying in part that, based on the evidence submitted and what was released to the public, it was evident the officer was justified in using lethal force for self-defense and the defense of others. Toney went on to say that, while many may be disappointed with the decision, neither politics nor public pressure should never be allowed to dictate prosecutorial decisions. Here is the full release:

“The Kenosha County District Attorney explained, in detail, why no charges will be filed against the officer for the shooting of Jacob Blake or against Jacob Blake for resisting arrest. The decisions were rooted in law and the legal principles of self-defense and defense of others in relation to the safety of the police officers and the children in the vehicle. The rush to judgment condemning the officers was immediate for many, including Governor Tony Evers. The information released today gives a more clear picture of the shooting by providing key details leading up to it. These facts lead to the conclusion that this was a justified shooting. Armed with such facts, the Governor chose to double down on his reckless and irresponsible political rhetoric.

This statement by Governor Tony Evers is an affront to the rule of law. The Governor’s statement suggests that politics, public pressure or public opinion should dictate how prosecutorial decisions are made. Injustice, slavery, and racism cannot be undone by compounding it with further injustice.

During the press conference led by the Kenosha County District Attorney, we learned that law enforcement officers were attempting to take Blake into custody on an arrest warrant for felony sexual assault and domestic violence charges. This resulted in Blake resisting arrest while possessing a knife, which is visible on video, and attempting to enter a vehicle with children in the rear seats. During this time, multiple non-lethal efforts to take Blake into custody, including multiple attempts to taser Blake, were unsuccessful. 

The officers pursued Blake, ordering him to drop the knife, which is heard on the audio included with the video, while Blake attempted to enter the vehicle. An officer then grabbed at Blake’s shirt, at which point four witnesses, including two civilians, indicated they observed Blake turning or twisting his body. The officers described Blake switching the knife from his left hand to his right hand, which would have had the knife then moving in the direction of one of the officers. At this point, the officer fired 7 rounds, 3 striking Blake in the side and 4 striking Blake in the back.

I don’t have access to the investigative file, but based on what was released to the public today, it is evident the officer was justified in using lethal force for self-defense and defense of others. Many are disappointed with the decision in Kenosha but we must never allow politics or public pressure to dictate prosecutorial decisions. We can all agree that peaceful protests must be allowed; however, I pray that the anticipated protests remain peaceful for the safety of the law enforcement officers, national guard, and all the peaceful protestors.”