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Officer who shot Jacob Blake won’t face civil rights charges, DOJ says

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Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Civil rights charges will not be pursued against the Wisconsin police officer who shot Jacob Blake last year, partially paralyzing him, the Department of Justice announced Friday.

Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, fired seven times at Blake, who is Black, on Aug. 23, 2020, after responding to a report of a domestic dispute, authorities said.

Following an investigation, federal prosecutors said the evidence obtained was insufficient to prove Sheskey “willfully used excessive force,” the DOJ said in a statement.

Investigators reviewed police reports, law enforcement accounts, witness statements, witness affidavits, photographs, videos and more of the incident, which was captured on a witness’ cellphone and sparked days of large-scale protests in Kenosha.

“After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors determined that insufficient evidence exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the KPD officer willfully violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes,” the DOJ said.

The DOJ said it has informed representatives of Blake’s family about its decision.

The shooting occurred as officers were attempting to detain Blake, who had a warrant out for his arrest. After Blake walked to the front of his vehicle toward the driver’s side door, Sheskey fired his gun seven times toward his back.

Blake was struck by six of the bullets and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

An unfolded knife was found on the driver’s side floorboard of Blake’s vehicle, authorities said.

Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley also declined to file any charges against Sheskey related to the incident last year, saying at the time the officer was justified in his use of force and was acting in self-defense because Blake was armed with a knife.

Sheskey was not disciplined for his use of force by the Kenosha Police Department either, which said he was acting “within policy.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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