The Wisconsin police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times last August has returned to duty after being cleared.
Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, was with two other members of the Kenosha police department when they attempted to arrest Blake, who is Black, on an outstanding warrant in Wisconsin in August 2020.
During a scuffle between the two parties, a pocketknife fell from Blake’s trousers. The 29-year-old said he picked it up before heading to an SUV where two of his children were waiting, saying he was prepared to surrender once he put the knife in the vehicle.
As Blake approached the SUV, Sheskey opened fire, later claiming he shot the gun because he feared for his own safety. The incident left Blake paralysed from the waist down.
Following the shooting, Sheskey was put on administrative leave and investigated. District Attorney Michael Graveley announced in January that the officer would face no criminal charges, and he returned to duty on March 31 after being cleared.
Graveley said he could not disprove the officer’s claims that he feared for his life when he shot Blake because the 29-year-old had a knife.
Kenosha’s police chief, Daniel Miskinis, released a statement on Sheskey’s return to say he was found to have been acting within policy during the encounter with Blake, and that he will not be disciplined.
Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he commented: ‘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.’
On March 25, just days before Sheskey returned to work, Blake filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for damages against the officer, claiming his use of deadly force was excessive, violated Blake’s rights under the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable seizure, and was done with ‘malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference’ to Blake’s rights.
One of Blake’s attorneys, Patrick Salvi Jr., expressed his dismay at Sheskey’s return to work without discipline, saying: ‘How can anyone say this is a desired result for a police encounter?’
Salvi said that it was ‘a very sad state of affairs’ if Kenosha police truly believe Sheskey did not break any internal policies or subvert from training, adding: ‘But that’s not true and we’ll prove it in our lawsuit.’
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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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