Who is Rusten Sheskey? Kenosha cop who shot Jacob Blake 7 times back on duty as he 'acted within policy'
The police officer responsible for shooting 29-year-old Jacob Blake seven times in August 2020 has been reinstated to active duty. Rusten Sheskey, the 31-year-old officer from Kenosha Police Department in Wisconsin who shot Blake, returned from administrative leave on March 31, 2021. According to Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis, Sheskey was found to have acted within policy and his return to duty was the only lawful and appropriate decision.
"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," Chief Daniel Miskinis stated. He added that Sheskey will not be subjected to discipline.
Who is Rusten Sheskey?
Before his employment with the Kenosha Police Department, Rusten Sheskey was a member of the police department of his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He worked there from 2009 to 2013, first as a dispatcher, then a police service associate and was finally promoted to an officer. There, he was assigned to investigate anti-Black hate crimes at the campus.
Sheskey hails from a family of police officers as his grandfather Oreste Maraccini worked at the Kenosha Police Department for 33 years. Sheskey himself was sworn in as an officer in 2013, according to the photos of the swearing-in ceremony available on the KPD's Facebook page.
In a 2019 interview with The Kenosha News, Sheskey mentioned enjoying his duties as a member of the KPD's bicycle patrol unit. "It kind of takes the whole car away, obviously; you don’t have the windows rolled up. People wave us down for everything, from talking about their problems in the neighborhood to just to say hi and talk about the bikes. It definitely gets us out a lot more," he had shared at the time. Aside from his previous job as a bicycle patrol officer, Sheskey also enjoyed mountain biking as a fun hobby.
By August 2020, Sheskey was 31 years old and a seven-year veteran with the Kenosha police. On August 23, 2020, he responded to a domestic disturbance complaint by a woman. At the scene, Sheskey reportedly shot Blake seven times in the back from close range as he bent over into the driver's side of his car. Blake was shot in front of his three children, aged 3, 5, and 8 at the time.
At the time of the shooting, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest on charges of third-degree sexual assault, disorderly conduct and trespassing, as reported by National Review. Furthermore, the police union claimed that Blake was armed with a knife during the shooting. However, a bystander who recorded the shooting on camera, said that he did not see any weapon in Blake's hands, though he heard the police shout at him to 'drop the knife'.
The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down and doctors are unsure if he would be able to walk again.
Meanwhile, officer Ruston Sheskey was named in the shooting and sent on administrative leave. A fundraiser was then launched for him on GiveSendGo, which raised $32,665 out of its $50,000 goal. In November 2020, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mentioned that Sheskey had been the subject of five internal investigations since joining the police department in 2013.
In January 2021, it was announced by Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley that Sheskey would not be facing any charges in the shooting. Now he returns back to active police duty once again.