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Police Officer Exonerated in Kenosha, WI

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Kenosha, Wisconsin officer Rusten Sheskey, was exonerated for shooting Jacob Blake back in August of 2020.  Police have been responding to a 911 call placed by Blake’s ex-girlfriend, when he came to her house violating a restraining order she had against him. The video showed Blake wrestled with the two officers. The two officers tried to use a stun gun to no avail. Blake was headed towards a van filled with children that the girlfriend claimed were hers. The shooting happened when he walked away from the officers, opened up the driver’s side door to the van, and turned around with a knife in his hand toward the officer. At the time of the altercation Blake was also wanted on felony sexual assault warrants. Blake was later rushed to the hospital and was found to be paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting.

Sheskey, the responding officer who shot Blake, has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with that incident. The district attorney’s office said that the officer felt he was about to be stabbed and that no charges would be filed against him. Footage has been found that when Blake turned around with the knife, he made a stabbing or slicing motion towards the officer and then the officer fired.

The decision, by Michael Gravely, was based on evidence that could not be seen on the cell phone video of the incident which was released at that time. The video was shared wildly on social media and sparked protests. After the district attorney’s office refused to press charges stating that the shooting was justified the Department of Justice investigated whether or not they should press charges days after the shooting occurred. at the conclusion of their investigation in October of 2021 A team of professionals from the civil rights division and the US attorney’s office in Milwaukee, which had reviewed police reports, witness statements, dispatch logs and videos of the incidents, had determined there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the officer used excessive force and violated Blake’s federal civil rights.

Later on the sexual assault charges against Blake were dropped as part of a plea deal by prosecutors. Prosecutors allowed the third degree sexual assault charge to drop down to a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge in exchange for him pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct for which he was sentenced to two years probation.

Blake went on to file a civil rights lawsuit against officer Sheskey in March of 2021, alleging that the officer had used excessive force during the arrest even though Blake had a deadly weapon in his hand. This, in spite of the officer being exonerated not only by the local district attorney’s office, but also federally by the Department of Justice and specifically its Civil Rights Division. According to court records attorneys for both men filed a notice on Friday. They had agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice. This means that Blake will not be able to refile a civil rights lawsuit against the officer in the future.

 

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