Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley pleaded for peace before announcing the officer who injured Jacob Blake won’t be criminally charged in the Aug. 23 shooting that sparked several days of civil unrest in the small Wisconsin city.
The 23-year-old was shot seven times at close range as he walked away from Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey. Blake was leaning into a vehicle where his three children were in the back seat when he was shot.
Blake’s family said he’s now paralyzed below the waist.
“This was a tragedy, first and foremost, for Jacob Blake, who suffered grievous injuries. … No Kenosha law enforcement officer in this case will be charged with any criminal offense,” Graveley said at the news conference in Kenosha, adding his office would not be able to disprove a claim of self-defense from Sheskey.
Benjamin Crump, Blake’s attorney, was disappointed in Graveley’s decision, stressing it further diminishes trust in the legal system and empowers law enforcement to continue to shoot Black men without punishment.
“This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country. It says it is OK for police to abuse their power and recklessly shoot their weapon, destroying the life of someone who was trying to protect his children,” Crump said in a statement.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has mobilized 500 National Guard members to help Kenosha officials who expect civil unrest after the announcement.
A separate federal civil rights investigation into the shooting is ongoing, Graveley said.