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DOJ: Officer who shot Jacob Blake won't face civil rights charges

Police Shooting Wisconsin
Posted at 4:55 PM, Oct 08, 2021

KENOSHA, Wisc. — The U.S. Department of Justice will not pursue federal criminal, civil rights charges against Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey in the shooting of Jacob Blake last summer.

Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, who is Black, during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha in August 2020. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down and sparked several nights of protests.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched its investigation days after the shooting. State prosecutors decided not to file charges against Sheskey in January after the video showed that Blake had been armed with a knife.

The DOJ announced in a statement Friday that federal prosecutors from their Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office reviewed evidence to find out whether Sheskey violated any federal laws.

Their investigation focused on the "application of deprivation of rights under color of law, a federal criminal, civil rights statute that prohibits certain types of official misconduct."

According to the DOJ, evidence included police reports, law enforcement accounts, witness statements, affidavits of witnesses, dispatch logs, physical evidence reports, photographs, and videos of some portions of the incident.

For federal civil rights laws to have been broken, prosecutors must establish beyond a doubt that a police officer intentionally deprived someone of a constitutional right.

"Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence, nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a willful federal criminal, civil rights violation," the DOJ stated.

Following their investigation, federal prosecutors concluded insufficient evidence to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Sheskey willfully violated the federal criminal, civil rights statutes.

The review of the shooting of Blake by federal authorities has now concluded, the DOJ said.

TMJ4 Staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.