Jacob Blake sues Kenosha cop Rusten Sheskey for shooting him 7 times in the back and leaving him paralyzed
Blake's 18-page complaint does not list an attorney for Sheskey, who is listed as the only defendant and Blake is seeking unspecified damages
Jacob Blake Jr, a Black man who was paralyzed after he was shot in the back by a White police officer in southeastern Wisconsin filed a civil lawsuit on Thursday, March 25, accusing Kenosha officer Rusten Sheskey of using excessive force. Blake was shot by Sheskey last August while the former was about to get into an SUV amid a domestic dispute. The decision to file the suit comes nearly three months after Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that criminal charges would not be filed against Sheskey or the other officers involved in the case.
Blake, 29, was shot at least seven times in the back by Sheskey, an officer from the Kenosha Police Department after they responded to the 2800 block of 40th Street in Kenosha on Sunday, August 23, around 5.11 pm local time on reports of a domestic incident. The shooting, which came three months after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, sparked widespread protests across the city.
“While Jacob Blake survived being shot six times, his devastating injuries are permanent and life-changing. The bullet that severed Jacob’s spinal cord has left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Jacob now suffers from an intractable pain syndrome,” attorney Patrick Salvi II said in a statement. “After various surgical procedures and an agonizing course of physical rehabilitation, Jacob remains unable to return to his job as a security guard and relies on others to assist him with the basic needs of daily living.”
The suit alleges that the shooting was not justified, with attorneys saying that the shooting was “excessive and unnecessary.” “Nothing can undo this tragedy or take away the suffering endured by Jacob, his children, and the rest of the Blake family,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is one of three lawyers representing Blake in the case said in a statement. "But hopefully today is a significant step in achieving justice for them and holding Officer Sheskey answerable for his nearly deadly actions - actions that have deprived Jacob of his ability to walk. The path to ending police brutality is a long and grinding one, but the fight for systemic change in policing and transparency - and for justice - can only happen with accountability. And that is what we hope to achieve with this filing.”
Following the shooting, it was revealed that Blake was paralyzed because the bullets severed his spinal cord and shattered some of his vertebrae. Blake's lawyers also said that the shooting had left him with holes in his stomach, an arm injury and damage to his kidney and liver. In addition, most of his colon and small intestine had to be removed because of injuries. The shooter was later identified as Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the police force. He was once part of the Kenosha Police Department's bike unit and previously served as a cop at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, which he had attended as a student. In 2015, Sheskey was sued after he crashed his police car into a teenage girl driving a Jeep when he allegedly made an illegal left turn. The lawsuit was resolved out of court and later dismissed.
Now, Blake has sued Sheskey for the shooting incident in August 2020. Blake said he picked up a pocket knife that fell from his pants during a scuffle before heading to a vehicle to drive away with two of his children in the back seat. He said he was prepared to surrender once he put the knife in the vehicle.
Sheskey told investigators that he feared for his own safety and opened fire. A Wisconsin prosecutor did not file criminal charges against Sheskey, saying he could not disprove the officer's statements that he acted in self-defense.
Blake's 18-page complaint does not list an attorney for Sheskey, who is listed as the only defendant, with Blake seeking unspecified damages. The complaint also includes still photos showing each of the seven shots fired by Sheskey. The complaint also states that the officer held the muzzle only a few feet away from where Blake's two young children were seated, putting them in "imminent danger" from being hit by gunfire or ricocheting bullets.
Sheskey's actions were "undertaken with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference to the rights" of Blake, the lawsuit said.