Updated: 10:38 AM PDT, March 26, 2021
Last August, Jacob Blake was celebrating his son’s eighth birthday when he got into an argument with a neighbor. Kenosha police were called as Blake was reportedly not supposed to be at the location, according to a recent lawsuit filed. Blake was left paralyzed below the waist after he was shot in the back several times by a police officer in Wisconsin as he was entering his SUV.
In the most recent development, Blake has filed a civil lawsuit against officer Rusten Sheskey, who opened fire on Blake when he said he feared for his own life as Blake picked up a pocket knife, CBS News reported. The prosecutor declined to file criminal charges against Sheskey because he could not disprove Sheskey’s contention that he acted in self-defense.
The 19-page lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin says that Blake did not pose a threat to anyone. The suit alleges that the seven shots fired in Blake’s direction, six of which struck him, were “excessive and unnecessary,” according to The New York Times.
The suit asks for compensation for Blake’s injuries, punitive damages, legal fees, and “such other relief as is just and equitable,” the outlet reported.
A federal civil rights investigation into the shooting of Blake is also ongoing, the Department of Justice said.
Sheskey and two other officers were called to Blake’s location on Aug. 23 and attempted to apprehend him for an “outstanding warrant” against him, according to reports.
A bystander captured a 20-second video of the incident, which shows Blake walking back to his SUV. At one point, officer Sheskey took Blake into a “headlock” and began “punching and choking him,” the lawsuit alleges.
When Blake tried to enter his car, a pocket knife fell from his pants and Blake picked it up and continued towards his vehicle on the driver’s side, the suit said.
The suit says it was at this point officer Sheskey fired his shots at Blake, who says he planned to surrender to police once he put the knife in the car, CBS News reported.
Sheskey told police that investigating the incident that he feared for his own life, which is why he shot at Blake multiple times.
Brendan P. Matthew, a lawyer representing Sheskey previously said in January the officer was “presented with a difficult and dangerous situation and he acted appropriately and in accordance with his training.”
The Kenosha shooting sparked outrage and several days of protests, some of which turned violent. It was at one demonstration where an Illinois teenager, was captured on video shooting three people ultimately killing two. The teen will appear on trial for the shootings this Fall. He had pleaded not guilty.
Three months earlier, the country was shaken by the death of George Floyd, also a Black man, who died at the hands of another White officer, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin is currently on trial for charges of murder and manslaughter. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.