By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Last August, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Shesky. After an investigation into the shooting, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that no one would be charged.
“No Kenosha law enforcement in this case will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and the laws as I will describe them to you now,” Graveley said during a press conference. “No charge will be filed against Jacob Blake in regard to this incident as well.”
He explained that Shesky could argue self-defense because Blake had a knife. If charges had been filed, during the case, the jury would have examined evidence from Shesky’s point of view, Graveley said.
The question at hand would be if police officers at the scene had the right to self-defense, Graveley said. The jury would need reasonable belief that Sheksy shot Blake in an act of self-defense and according to a Wisconsin statute, that evidence would come from the standpoint of Shesky, he explained.
The decision was made based on evidence found during an investigation into the incident. The Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigations was the independent organization in charge of investigating the case, Graveley explained.
Once the Division of Criminal Investigation completed its job, the report was sent to the District Attorney’s Office. The investigation included looking at 40 hours of squad video, law reports, police reports and more, he said.
The district attorney must determine if there is a basis to prosecute any of the law enforcement involved, Graveley said. Graveley looked at a Wisconsin statute regarding fatal police shootings when ruminating over the decision.
Graveley explained that the Division of Criminal Investigation is required to upload its report to its website as a matter of transparency since no charges are being filed. The Kenosha County District Attorney’s office also uploaded its report. The report is available as a PowerPoint and a written report.
Following the announcement, several elected officials took to Twitter to express their opinion regarding the decision.
“Jacob Blake’s life has forever been changed and his kids witnessed violence no kid should ever see, experienced trauma no kid should ever endure, all while the world watched,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “Today’s decision is further evidence that our work is not done – we must work each day in earnest toward a more just, more fair, and more equitable state and country, and to combat the racism experienced by Black Wisconsinites.”
On his personal Twitter page, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes tweeted, “I wish I could say that I’m shocked. It’s another instance in a string of misapplications of justice. It keeps happening, and there’s always a new excuse. The non-prosecuting DAs are as negligent as the officers in these situations.”
“What is video evidence anyway if they just watch it and interpret things other than reality?” Barnes said in a subsequent tweet. “Police accountability is one thing, but there’s a much deeper failure that allows a person to see the footage and ultimately determine nothing went wrong.”