Facts about Jacob Blake shooting
Jacob Blake was shot Aug. 23, 2020, by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey
Shortly after 5 p.m. local time, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, is shot by police while getting into an SUV with his three sons, ages 8, 5, and 3. A bystander’s video appears to show a white police officer grabbing Blake by the back of his shirt as Blake enters his vehicle, then shooting him from behind seven times at the close range, according to USAToday.
Kenosha police say officers were called to the 2800 block of 40th Street at 5:11 p.m. in response to a domestic incident. According to police radio transmissions, Blake is shot less than three minutes after the officers arrive.
Authorities identified Officer Rusten Sheskey as the sole shooter and said Blake was also tased. A knife was found in Blake's car, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Jacob Blake's dad says son left paralyzed by police shooting
Blake's family and attorney have said the shooting left him paralyzed from the waist down, said Kare11.
“They shot my son seven times, seven times like he didn’t matter,” said Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake. “But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”
|Jacob Blake speaks from his hospital bed in a video posted on Twitter. Photo: JSOnline|
Blake's father told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was told his son was shot eight times, which was captured on cellphone video and led to two nights of unrest in the city between Milwaukee and Chicago.
He said his son has “eight holes” in his body and is paralyzed from the waist down, though doctors don't know if the paralysis will be permanent.
Blake had no previous criminal record
Blake is serving two years of probation after reaching a plea agreement on the charges that resulted in the attempt to arrest him on Aug. 23. There was an active felony warrant for his arrest at the time.
Blake had been charged a month earlier with third-degree sexual assault, a felony, and two misdemeanors, trespassing, and disorderly conduct, in connection with an altercation at his girlfriend's home several weeks earlier. Under his deal with prosecutors, Blake pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct involving domestic abuse.
He has no pending charges.
The state Department of Justice investigated the shooting
Kenosha police immediately asked the Justice Department to take over the investigation of Blake's shooting.
Wisconsin's attorney general announced that he has selected a former Madison police chief to serve as an independent consultant for prosecutors weighing whether to file charges against the officer who shot Jacob Blake.
Noble Wray, the expert who reviewed the file, is Black. Following his retirement as Madison's chief in 2013, Wray has become a national leader in working on police reform, fighting racism, and educating about implicit bias. Wray was chief for nine years and worked 30 years as a police officer, an experience that Attorney General Josh Kaul and Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely said would be crucial when reviewing the file.
|Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely addresses the media during a news conference in Kenosha, Wis,… where it was announced that former Madison Chief Noble Wray will serve as an independent consultant in the Jacob Blake shooting. Photo: Kenosha News|
Gravely said he requested the consultant but that he asked the Department of Justice to choose. He said Wray would bring “diverse” and “abundant” perspectives to the case.
Wray said he will provide insight and perspective to the case but not prejudge it. Wray said he will complete his review as quickly as possible, but he has not been given a timeline once he receives the investigative file.
“I have not prejudged the case,” Wray said.
Protests spread widely after shooting
|Protesters and police officers clashed in Kenosha on Aug. 24, the day after Mr. Blake was shot. Photo: NYTimes|
Protests over Mr. Blake’s shooting played out in the streets of Kenosha, in cities across the country, and in the spotlight of professional sports in August. Athletes from the N.B.A., the W.N.B.A., Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer and at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament refused to play, seizing on the shooting to take a stand against systemic racism and police brutality, according to the NYTimes.
In Kenosha, anger was palpable during the first nights of the protests, as some demonstrators burned buildings and cars and threw fireworks, water bottles, and bricks at police officers in riot gear. Officers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Protests spread across the country, to cities including Madison, Wis.; Portland, Ore.; Minneapolis; and New York.
Two people are shot dead
In Kenosha on Aug. 25, two people were fatally shot, and a third was wounded, as protesters clashed with counterprotesters, including a group of armed men who said they were protecting the area from looters. The two people killed were Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. Mr. Huber’s friends said he was protesting against the shooting of Mr. Blake.
|Kyle Rittenhouse Photo: AP|
Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, who is white, was arrested at his home in Illinois and charged with six criminal counts, including first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, in connection with the shooting deaths of Mr. Rosenbaum and Mr. Huber and the wounding of the third demonstrator.
Mr. Rittenhouse, who is now 18, pleaded not guilty to the charges during a brief arraignment via videoconference on Jan. 5. His case will proceed in March.
No charges against Wisconsin officer who shot Jacob Blake
A Wisconsin prosecutor declined Tuesday to file charges against a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back in Kenosha, concluding he couldn’t disprove the officer’s contention that he acted in self-defense because he feared the man would stab him, AP News reported.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, called the decision “further evidence that our work is not done” and called for people to work together for equity. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, was more pointed on Twitter: “I wish I could say that I’m shocked. It’s another instance in a string of misapplications of justice.”
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said investigators concluded Blake was carrying a knife when police responded to a report he was trying to steal a car. Officer Rusten Sheskey said he “feared Jacob Blake was going to stab him with the knife” as he tried to stop Blake from fleeing the scene.
|Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, holds a candle at a rally Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis. Photo: AP/Morry Gash|
“I do not believe the state ... would be able to prove that the privilege of self-defense is not available,” Graveley said.
Blake's family members expressed anger about the charging decision.
“This is going to impact this city and this state and this nation for many years to come,” Justin Blake, an uncle, said. “Unless the people rise up and do what they’re supposed to do. This is a government for the people by the people, correct? We talk about this constitution everybody’s supposed to be so committed to, and yet we stand in the state that has the most convictions of African Americans in the United States. So they’re weighing heavily on one side of justice, but they’re allowing police officers to rain down terror on our communities. It’s unjust.”
Ben Crump, an attorney for Blake’s family, said in a statement the decision “further destroys trust in our justice system” and said he would proceed with a lawsuit. In a later tweet, he questioned whether Blake threatened Sheskey with a knife, saying “nowhere does the video footage show a knife extended and aimed to establish the requisite intent.”
A federal civil rights investigation into Blake’s shooting is still underway. Matthew Krueger, the U.S. attorney for Wisconsin’s Eastern District, said the Department of Justice will make its own charging decision.
Kenosha braced for renewed protests
Kenosha, a city of 100,000 on the Wisconsin-Illinois border about 60 miles north of Chicago, braced for renewed protests ahead of the charges, with concrete barricades and metal fencing surrounding the county courthouse, plywood protecting many businesses, and the mayor granted the power to impose curfews. Evers activated 500 National Guard troops to assist.
As temperatures dipped near freezing Tuesday evening, about 20 protesters gathered and marched in an area north of downtown, chanting “No justice, no peace.” About 15 cars, some honking their horns, followed.
A group of protesters confronts several National Guard members outside a museum, late Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis. Earlier it was announced that no charges will be filed against the white police officer that shot Jacob Blake, a Black man in August. Photo: AP/Morry Gash
Vaun Mayer, a 33-year-old activist from Milwaukee who is Black, drove to Kenosha to protest. He said he didn’t expect the officer to be charged, calling Graveley’s decision just the latest in a line of prosecutors failing to charge police officers in Wisconsin.
“We’re used to this and we didn’t expect anything different than this,” he said.
At a downtown park near the courthouse where hundreds gathered in the days after Blake was shot, there was no sign of any large, organized protests. Abdullah Shabazz, 36, who said he came from nearby Waukegan, Illinois, to show solidarity with the Blake family, blamed the weather.
Kris Coleman, 36, of Kenosha, stood nearby live streaming National Guard troops manning an intersection. He said the city appeared to be better prepared than it was during the summer. “And I’m happy,” he said. Later, a small group of protesters confronted Guard members briefly at the courthouse.
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