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Justice Department Declines to File Federal Civil Rights Charges Against Officer who Shot Jacob Blake in Back Seven Times

Photo Courtesy: Wisconsin Department of Justice
Rusten Sheskey
Over a year after a white police officer shot 30-year-old Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back seven times during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha, Wisconsin, setting off several nights of sometimes violent protests in August 2020 — federal prosecutors announced today that they will not file federal civil rights charges against the officer.

According to a statement released by the Justice Department this conclusion was reached after a team of experienced federal prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office conducted a detailed and lengthy analysis of numerous materials obtained by state investigators and the FBI.

The team determined that insufficient evidence exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the KPD officer, Rusten Sheskey, willfully violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes after examining the evidence which included police reports, law enforcement accounts, witness statements, affidavits of witnesses, dispatch logs, physical evidence reports, photographs and videos of some portions of the incident.

“Accordingly, the review of this incident has been closed without a federal prosecution,” concluded the Justice Department statement.

The decision followed one made earlier this year by state officials not to charge Sheske citing video of Blake — who is paralyzed from the incident and had his children nearby in the back of his vehicle when he was shot — wielding a knife before the incident.

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