Kenosha Police officer Rusten Sheskey will not be charged for the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley announced in a late Tuesday afternoon press conference at the Parkway Chateau that after weeks of studying the investigation into the shooting by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, and in a review by an independent use of force consultant, he does not believe charges against the police officer were warranted.
Blake’s family has argued against the police narrative and called for criminal charges against Sheskey. Graveley also announced that no charges would be filed against Blake.
In making his decision, Graveley said he had to weigh several factors, but most of all, had to determine what could be proven in court.
"I want to emphasize that this case has to be laser focused on what a jury trial would look like," he said. "Everybody has seen the video. From their perspective, they have tried this case from their computer screen in their living room. As a professional, I am called upon on how to try this case in a real court room."
Graveley added that he didn't feel he could prove the three officers involved, including Sheskey, didn't have the "privilege of self defense" available in this case.
"As soon as I saw the video and shared the same emotional reactions the public did ... I knew at that time that we needed to do the most independent charging decision and investigative process we could possibly do," Graveley said.
Sheskey, who is white, shot Blake, a Black man, on Aug. 23 after being called for a domestic disturbance. Sheskey, along with two other officers, attempted to take Blake into custody on a felony warrant involving a domestic incident with the mother of his children, the same woman who called police on Aug. 23.
In a video shot by a bystander, Sheskey is seen holding Blake by his shirt and firing his weapon seven times at close range at Blake’s back as Blake attempted to get into an SUV.
Blake, 29, was left paralyzed by the shooting. According to his family, he is still undergoing rehabilitation for his injuries at a care center in Illinois.
On the day of the shooting, Blake had reportedly struggled with police attempting to arrest him. Police had used a taser during the struggle, but Blake continued to attempt to leave, according to information released earlier. An earlier statement from the Department of Justice reported that a knife was found in Blake’s vehicle.
According to an earlier statement, Sheskey told investigators that Blake had a knife and that he was worried that Blake was attempting to kidnap a child. Sheskey’s attorney has said the officer saw Blake put one of his children into the vehicle and was unaware his two other children were already seated inside.
During Tuesday's press conference, Graveley broke down the shooting and explained why Sheskey's actions were deemed justified. According to Graveley, Sheskey said he kept shooting until Blake dropped the knife.
Said Graveley of what witnesses to the shooting didn't know: "They didn't know that this was in the context of a domestic dispute and that that might be something that officers would have to factor in. They didn't know that there was a felony arrest warrant. They didn't know that Jacob Blake was armed with a knife, though you now know that.
"We didn't know that, though, when watching the video the first time."
The shooting sparked protests that went on for several nights. Some of them turned violent, with some protesters burning businesses and members of self-styled militias answering a call on social media to travel to the city.
Prosecutors have charged Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois, with shooting three people, killing two of them, with an assault-style weapon during one of the demonstrations. Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon. The rioting resulted in millions of dollars of damage.
Sheskey has been on administrative leave since the shooting.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice Department of Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation into the shooting. Those results were then turned over to Graveley, who also called for an independent review by former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray.
The state dropped the felony charges that had initially led police to attempt to arrest Blake. In November Blake pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and was placed on probation.
Graveley apologized to the community at large that had been impacted by the events, many of whom wondered why it took this long to get to a decision. Based on advice he was given, Graveley said he was unable to give much advanced notice prior to the afternoon press conference.
"Certainly, there are many people in this community who felt like their own sense of security as impacted that no one set a particular date to announce this decision," he said.
This is a continuing developing story and will be updated throughout the night.
Kenosha News staff contributed to this report.