Officer Rusten Sheskey was will not be charged in the shooting of Jacob Blake over the summer, according to Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley.
Mr Blake was shot in the back seven times by Mr Sheskey after attempting to leave the scene of a domestic dispute on 23 August.
Officers claimed Mr Blake had a knife at the time, but Mr Blake’s lawyers contend that the claim is untrue. Mr Graveley also said Mr Blake would not be charged with any crimes.
The city of Kenosha, Wisconsin has been preparing for protests when the decision comes in. The Wisconsin National Guard has deployed. Safety efforts announced by local officials also include designated demonstration spaces, road closures, a curfew, protective fencing, and limitations on city bus routes.
In a separate development, teenager Kyle Rittenhouse today pleaded not guilty to all charges relating to the fatal shooting of two men and wounding of another in the unrest that followed the shooting of Mr Blake.
‘Immensely disappointed’: Jacob Blake’s family react to no charge decision against police as Kenosha braces for protest
Rusten Sheskey will not face charges for the shooting of Mr Blake, a Black man, which sparked violent protests in Wisconsin last August.
Mr Blake was shot seven times in the back when officers responded to a domestic incident, and although he survived he was left paralysed from the waist down.
“We are immensely disappointed and feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family but the community that protested and demanded justice,” said Mr Blake’s lawyer, Ben Crump.
«This isn’t the news we hoped for, but our work is not done and hope is not lost.
Kenosha’s ‘moment of truth’?
In September 2020 an independent consultant was appointed to investigate the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Former Madison police chief Noble Wray said at a press conference at the time that the investigation “will be a moment of truth” for Wisconsin, and that the outcome of the case has not been predetermined.
While the investigation will continue to be led by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the final investigative file would be handed over to Mr Wray for expert analysis in recommendation of a charging decision.
Kenosha and the campaign
The shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha came towards the end of a summer of demonstrations about police brutality towards the Black community following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of officers in Louisville and Minneapolis.
Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump made high profile visits to the Wisconsin city in the aftermath of the incident and the subsequent unrest.
Richard Hall reported for The Independent on the significance of the visits by the respective campaigns back in September.
Blake family reaction
Ben Crump, lawyer for the Blake family, tweets: «We are immensely disappointed and feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family but the community that protested and demanded justice.»
He adds: “Our work is not done and our hope is not lost.”
Mr Crump vows to continue to press forward and fight for systemic change in policing and transparency at all levels.