Why was officer not charged despite shooting Jacob Blake 7 times? Prosecutor makes case for cop's perspective
Prosecutors in Kenosha will not be filing any charges against officer Rusten Sheskey who shot Jacob Blake seven times in August 2020 - an incident that triggered protests in the US
Prosecutors in Kenosha, Wisconsin will not be filing any charges against officer Rusten Sheskey who shot Jacob Blake seven times in August 2020 - an incident that triggered protests in the US. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley informed the press that the prosecution had gone through 40 hours of video and 100s of pages of police reports before coming to the decision and asked people to understand Sheskey's perspective on the incident. He stressed how Sheskey did what he did because he believed that he could be stabbed and also informed that Blake had confessed to possessing a knife at the time of the incident.
Graveley, who is White, said he is not aware of what it felt like to be treated with bias based on his race, and said, "I feel in many ways completely inadequate for this moment. I have never in my life had a moment where I’ve had to contend with explicit or implicit bias based on my race. I have never had a moment in my life where I’ve had to fear for my safety either with police officers or people in authority.” He further acknowledged that he did not understand what it was like to face police officers "knowing I could face armed persons who might try to end my life.”
So why was officer Sheskey not charged?
The decision, Graveley claimed, was made after reviewing evidence that was not made available in the video that sparked riots in August last year. He said that Sheskey could successfully argue self-defense before a jury. Graveley further added, "It's really evidence about the perspective of Officer Sheskey at each moment and what would a reasonable officer do at each moment. Almost none of those things are answered in that deeply disturbing video that we’ve all seen. ... Officer Sheskey felt he was about to be stabbed." Blake was shot in the back four times, and in the side thrice which left him paralyzed waist down. He is currently undergoing treatment in Illinois. It was also revealed that Graveley will not be charging Blake, or the two other officers who were present -- Brittany Meronek and Vincent Arenas -- when the incident occurred.
It must be noted that President-elect Joe Biden during his campaign and while he met with Blake's family had said that the charges against the officer who shot Blake were warranted.
Graveley further explained that his decision was based on investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and an assessment made by former Madison police chief Noble Wray, who served as a federal reform specialist during former President Barack Obama's administration. It was revealed that Blake had open felony warrant against him after a previous domestic violence incident. At the conference, a call made by Blake's girlfriend to 911 was played in which she confessed to allowing him to be in her residence for their son's birthday party despite legally prohibited from being there.
It was also revealed that the officers had tried multiple times to taser Blake but were unsuccessful and he had pulled out his knife from his waistband to attack officer Sheskey. In the ensuing struggle, Blake lost the knife only to retrieve it when the struggle had briefly paused and he had attempted to flee the scene in the SUV in which his three kids were seated. Sheskey had reportedly decided to engage only when he had believed that he might be losing the fight and that the officers might lose Blake if he were to leave with his children. "Officers could not let him leave with a child in the car,” Wray explained and said, "This is the stuff Amber alerts are made of."
Statement from Jacob Blake's attorney
Attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels of Blake, Patrick A. Salvi II and B’Ivory LaMarr, in a press statement said, "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." They also added, "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."
Reactions to the announcement from Congressmen, NAACP
Westchester Congressman Mondaire Jones tweeted about the decision and said, "In 2020, thousands took to the streets to demand that #BlackLivesMatter. Now, we begin 2021 with a shameful reminder that our criminal legal system was not designed for people who look like Jacob Blake and me. Our work is not over yet. We still have so far to go."
In 2020, thousands took to the streets to demand that #BlackLivesMatter. Now, we begin 2021 with a shameful reminder that our criminal legal system was not designed for people who look like Jacob Blake and me.— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) January 5, 2021
Our work is not over yet. We still have so far to go. ✊🏿 https://t.co/d4vvCYSR11
NAACP also said in a statement, "Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley’s failure to bring substantial charges against the officer who shot Jacob Blake causes pain for far too many Americans still reeling from a pandemic and the countless black deaths due to police brutality. The district attorney’s decision is foul and shameful. It is yet another stark reminder of the free-willing atrocities committed against Black people at the hands of those entrusted to maintain public safety. Atrocities committed against the people of this country by the authorities cannot and should not go unanswered. The justice system failed Jacob Blake and, as such, failed us," and urged American people to "continue to fight, organize, and mobilize against police brutality."