The Justice Department will not pursue federal civil rights violations charges against the Wisconsin police officer who shot Jacob Blake last summer, which culminated in days of violent riots where two people were killed.
Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, 30, on Aug. 23, 2020 during a domestic response call. The shooting left Blake paralyzed amid a summer of riots nationwide about police tactics and racial injustice.
“The department makes this decision because the evidence obtained is insufficient to prove that the KPD officer willfully used excessive force,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The agency said it informed Blake’s family of the decision.
State prosecutors declined to file charges against Sheskey earlier this year after video footage of the incident showed Blake armed with a knife.
Authorities were trying to arrest Blake on an outstanding warrant when a pocketknife fell from his pants. Footage of the shooting shows Blake walking away from Sheskey toward the driver’s side of his vehicle. His two children were in the backseat.
Sheskey told investigators he feared for his life when he opened fire and shot Blake in the back.
The incident came months into a nationwide reckoning that saw riots and looting in multiple cities following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.
Kenosha erupted with riots for several nights resulting in arson and multiple arrests and property damage. During one night of unrest, Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois resident, allegedly shot and killed two men and wounded a third. He claimed he opened fire in self-defense.
He is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional reckless homicide.