Probe of Jacob Blake police shooting in final stages, says Wisconsin AG
The report will head to a third-party consultant who will assist the DA.
September 22, 2020, 12:58 AM
• 6 min read
Investigators in Wisconsin said Monday they are in the final stages of their probe of last month’s shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer, and that their report will be reviewed by an experienced third party.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that retired Madison Police Chief Noble Wray will analyze their report of the Aug. 23 incident and provide further input before any charges are made.
“Noble Wray is a longtime Wisconsin resident and a widely respected retired Madison police chief who has extensive experience in law enforcement, including experience at the national level as a police reform specialist for the U.S. Department of Justice,” Kaul said in a statement about Wray, who is Black.
Wray noted at a news conference that he was part of the investigation into the 2014 police shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland. He told reporters that he had seen the video of Blake’s shooting, calling it “graphic,” but said that he has not “pre-judged” the case.
The report, from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, will not include recommendations for charges against Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is accused of shooting Blake.
“Chief Wray’s analysis will assist the district attorney in his review of the facts and their relationship with standard law enforcement practices as he makes a charging decision,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
In video taken on Aug. 23, Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was seen being shot seven times in the back by Sheskey, 31, who was one of a group of officers responding to a domestic violence call. An unidentified woman called 911 claiming her boyfriend was at her premises and not supposed to be there, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. Footage of the incident showed the moments when Sheskey, who is white, shot Blake in the back.
Investigators haven’t said if Blake was the subject of the complaint.
Officers contend they tried to arrest Blake and used a Taser on him, but he walked to his car and tried to get into the driver’s seat. Ben Crump, an attorney representing Blake and his family, said the 29-year-old was helping to deescalate a domestic incident when police drew their weapons and used the Taser.
Blake is paralyzed from the waist down and may never walk again, according to his family. All of the officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave as investigators look into the situation, but as of Monday, no charges were announced against them.
News of Blake’s shooting sparked more protests throughout the country against police violence and discrimination against the Black community. Demonstrations in Wisconsin turned deadly in Kenosha after a 17-year-old Illinois resident, who was armed with an assault rifle, allegedly fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and allegedly wounded Gaige Grosskreutz on Aug. 25.
Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with homicide and is awaiting trial for the shootings, which were partially filmed by bystanders.