On Tuesday, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis announced Sheskey has returned to work and will not face disciplinary action, citing internal and external reviews of the officer’s actions last August that found he hadn’t broken any rules in the shooting.
“Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome,” Miskinis said in a statement. “However, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made.”
Blake’s family, which is pursuing a lawsuit against Sheskey, questioned the department’s decision.
“We are outraged as a family, as a community,” Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, told WDJT. “You think it’s okay to put a police officer back in harm’s way of our children, of our seniors, it’s unconscionable.”
The announcement comes as tensions rise nationwide after the fatal police shooting in Minnesota of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old, unarmed Black man, and amid the ongoing trial for Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death. On Tuesday, Officer Kimberly Potter, who shot Wright, resigned, as did the police chief.
The shooting in Kenosha, a lakefront city of about 100,000, occurred after 5 p.m. on Aug. 23. Sheskey and two other officers were responding to a domestic incident and attempted to arrest Blake for an outstanding warrant. Blake got away and as he opened the driver’s side door to his car, Sheskey could be seen in video of the incident tugging at Blake’s shirt before repeatedly firing his gun. Blake’s three sons were inside the car and witnessed the shooting.
What followed were days of protests and unrest where police launched tear gas and fired beanbag-projectiles at demonstrators. The protests turned into nights of apparent lawlessness as a group of rioters burned buildings and ransacked stores. One night, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse traveled 20 miles to Kenosha to join a group of armed counterprotesters, and he was later charged in the fatal shooting of two men.
Sheskey was placed on administrative leave soon after the shooting as the Wisconsin Department of Justice conducted a months-long investigation.
In January, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said he could not disprove Sheskey’s claim that he was acting in self-defense because Blake was armed with a knife. Later that month, Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek, the two other Kenosha police officers involved in the incident, returned to full duty.
Sheskey, who joined the Kenosha police department in 2013, has been back on the job since March 31, Miskinis announced on Tuesday. The chief said the department employed an outside agency and an independent expert to conduct an investigation on Sheskey’s actions.
“Officer Sheskey was not charged with any wrongdoing,” Miskinis said in a statement. “He acted within the law and was consistent with training. This incident was also reviewed internally. Officer Sheskey was found to have been acting within policy and will not be subjected to discipline.”
The police department did not specify Sheskey’s assignment.
Patrick Salvi Jr., one of Blake’s attorneys, questioned the police department’s reasoning for reinstating Sheskey.
“How can anyone say this is a desired result for a police encounter?” Salvi told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, referring to Blake’s shooting. He also disputed the internal probe’s finding that Sheskey had followed policy and training, calling the conclusion “a very sad state of affairs.”
“That’s not true and we’ll prove it in our lawsuit,” Salvi said.