The DOJ said Friday “it will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges” against Officer Rusten Sheskey for his August 2020 shooting of Blake in the back and left side seven times last year. DOJ said it had told Blake’s family on Friday and that prosecutors made the choice “because the evidence obtained is insufficient to prove that the KPD officer willfully used excessive force.”
“A team of experienced federal prosecutors determined that insufficient evidence exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the KPD officer willfully violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes," the DOJ said.
Protests following Blake’s shooting often ended in violence and rioting, with fights with police, large-scale looting, and citywide arson. Hundreds of members of the National Guard eventually had to be called in to control the streets. Kenosha Supervisor Terry Rose estimated that there had been $50 million worth of damage to buildings and businesses last year.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley published a January report saying the facts verified that Sheskey and two other responding officers knew Blake had a felony warrant involved with domestic violence and sexual assault charges.
It said they also knew Laquisha Booker flagged them down and told Blake was trying to take her car while her kids were in it, that Blake physically opposed arrest while he had a knife, that Sheskey and another officer repeatedly tried to overcome Blake with a taser to no good, that Blake was walking to the car with a knife, and that Sheskey, another officer, and two citizen eyewitnesses saw Blake turning toward Sheskey with the knife when Sheskey then shot him.
The district attorney concluded: “I do not believe the State could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Sheskey was not acting lawfully in self-defense or defense of others.”
Blake confirmed in a January interview he’d been loaded with a knife, saying: “I realize I had dropped my knife. I had a little pocket knife. So I picked it up after I got off of him because they tased me, and I fell on top of him … I shouldn’t have picked it up.”
Then-candidate Joe Biden visited with Blake’s family and spoke with Blake in September 2020, and said, “He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not, he wasn’t going to give up.”
Now-Vice President Kamala Harris also visited Blake’s family and spoke with Blake last September. Blake’s lawyer, Ben Crump, said , “The senator told Jacob that she was also proud of him and how he is working through his pain.”