The police officers involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake, which touched off days of civil unrest this past summer in Wisconsin, will not face any criminal charges, authorities said Tuesday.
Blake, who is Black, was struck by seven bullets at close range on Aug. 23 as he walked away from Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey, who had answered a domestic disturbance call.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley told reporters that Shesky and other officers would have had a strong case for self-defense.
“If you don’t believe you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have an ethical obligation not to issue charges,” Graveley said at a Tuesday press conference.
Blake’s family lawyer, Ben Crump, said Graveley wrongfully denied the community its chance to try the facts at trial.
“We are immensely disappointed in Kenosha District Attorney Michael Gravely’s [sic] decision not to charge the officers involved in this horrific shooting,” Crump said in a statement.
“We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice.”
Graveley said he shared his findings with Blake before speaking to reporters late Tuesday afternoon.
Even before announcing his findings, Graveley pleaded for peace.
“Can moments of tragedy like this be an opportunity to build things?” he said.
The shooting left Blake paralyzed below the waist, according to his family.
Police responded to a call of a domestic incident near 2800 40th St. on that early Sunday evening in late August, officials said.
Kenosha police officers are not equipped with body cameras, but a bystander captured the confrontation that appeared to show Blake walking away and about to get into the driver’s side of his SUV when Sheskey opened fire.
Sheskey and fellow officer Vincent Arenas both used tasers on Blake but couldn’t stop him, authorities have said.
Blake was near a knife when he was shot, state prosecutors have said, and a blade was found in the footwell of the vehicle.
But Raysean White, the bystander who shot the video, said he heard police yelling, “Drop the knife!” but never saw Blake armed with any blade.
Ensuing protests in Kenosha also led to the to the slaying of two men.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager from nearby Antioch, Illinois, gunned down Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, during protests on Aug. 25.
Rittenhouse has been charged with felony homicide among a host of other crimes.
The teenager has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Rittenhouse has insisted he acted in self-defense and that he was in Kenosha to protect local businesses from vandalism and to render medical assistance to injured protesters.
Rittenhouse’s case has become a cause célèbre in far right-wing circles. Former “NYPD Blue” actor Ricky Schroder and MyPillow Inc. CEO Mike Lindell raised money for Rittenhouse’s bail, according to the young man’s lawyer Lin Wood, who thanked the two noted conservative activists for “putting us over the top.”
The shooting of Blake, along with the police slayings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and initial decisions not to charge individuals involved in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia, fueled a summer of international protests against systemic racism.