A Wisconsin prosecutor announced on Tuesday that he will not file criminal charges against a white police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha last year, leaving him paralysed and sparking protests in the city and across the United States.
Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times on August 23 as Blake was about to get into a 4X4 during a domestic dispute.
The police union has said Blake resisted arrest and was armed with a knife, although state investigators have said only that a knife was found on the floor of the vehicle. Blake’s three children were in the back seat of the 4X4 when he was shot.
“It is our decision that no charges will be filed,” Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said during a news conference on Tuesday.
“I do not believe the state … would be able to prove that the privilege of self-defence is not available” and he “would have to disprove the clear expression of these officers that they had to fire a weapon to defend themselves,” he said.
Graveley said that he had informed Blake of the news before holding a news conference to announce his decision, which set off immediate reaction on social media.
“We are immensely disappointed and feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family but the community that protested and demanded justice” Ben Crump, a lawyer representing Blake’s family tweeted shortly after the announcement.
BREAKING: Kenosha DA Michael Gravely will NOT charge the officers involved in the August shooting of Jacob Blake. We are immensely disappointed and feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family but the community that protested and demanded justice.
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 5, 2021
The NAACP, a US civil rights organisation that works to ensure justice for Black people, said the announcement was “shameful, disgusting, and far too familiar to the Black community!”
An UNARMED Black man was shot 7x in the back.
That’s your evidence!
— NAACP (@NAACP) January 5, 2021
The shooting in August sparked protests that went on for several nights. Some of them turned violent, with some protesters burning businesses and members of self-styled militias travelling to the city.
Concrete barricades and oversized metal fencing surrounded the Kenosha County Courthouse on Monday night.
Fearing a repeat of the August protests, the Kenosha Common Council on Monday unanimously approved an emergency resolution that goes into effect with the announcement and allows the mayor to set curfews.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers activated 500 National Guard troops to help Kenosha authorities in preventing possible violent clashes.