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Jacob Blake Sues Kenosha Cop Who Shot Him After Shooting Ruled Justified

Kenosha, WI – The man who was shot by Kenosha police during a domestic incident last August filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Thursday against the officer who shot him.

Blake’s lawsuit named Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey as the only defendant in the case filed on March 25, NPR reported.

The lawsuit, filed by three lawyers led by notorious anti-cop attorney Ben Crump, claimed Blake suffered “catastrophic, permanent injuries” that have left him a paraplegic as a direct result of Officer Sheskey’s actions on Aug. 23, 2020.

Blake is seeking unspecified compensation for his injuries, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and other relief, according to NPR.

In January, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley determined announced that no charges would be brought against any of the officers involved in the incident, sparking a new set of protests in the beleaguered city, WTMJ reported.

Graveley made his determination after and independent investigation conducted by former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray found Officer Sheskey’s use of force during the incident “justified.”

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul chose Wray to head up the investigation, WTMJ reported.

Wray, an African American law enforcement officer who spent 30 years on the Madison Police Department – 10 of them as chief of police – delivered his 25-page report on the officer-involved shooting to the district attorney on Jan. 5.

The report was released in conjunction with an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, WTMJ reported.

The shooting occurred after Laquisha Booker, the mother of Blake’s children, called 911 and told them Blake “isn’t supposed to be there and he took the complainant’s keys and is refusing to give them back,” according to a statement from the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

Brendan Matthews, attorney for the Kenosha Professional Police Association, said that the officers knew before they arrived on the scene that Blake had an active warrant for domestic violence charges for an attack on Booker in May of 2020, the Kenosha News reported.

At the time of the shooting, Blake was wanted on charges of third-degree sexual assault, trespassing, and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse that occurred at the same address, according to Newsweek.

The police union’s attorney explained that the Kenosha officers were required to take Blake into custody regardless of what was happening at the new scene they responded to because he already had the outstanding warrants, according to the Kenosha News.

But when officers tried to take Blake into custody, Matthews said “forcefully fought” with officers, including putting one of them in a headlock.

Two of the officers deployed Tasers at Blake but they didn’t have any effect on him.

Wray’s report said Officer Sheskey noted in the police report that Blake pulled the wires from the Taser probes, writing that “he had never seen anyone do that before,” WTMJ reported.

Blake walked around his car and ignored officers’ commands to stop and “drop the knife,” according to witness reports.

Cell phone video of the incident posted to social media showed Officers Sheskey and another officer following closely behind Blake with their weapons drawn as the suspect dashed to the driver’s door of his SUV.

The video showed Blake continued to ignore officers’ commands to stop, and leaned into his vehicle as if reaching for something.

Officer Sheskey, who was right behind Blake, opened fire on the suspect and shot him seven times, according to the DCI statement.

“In my view, Blake’s proximity to the officers put him in a position of being capable of causing harm,” Wray wrote in his independent evaluation of the officer-involved shooting, WTMJ reported.

Instead, Wray said “Blake could have decided to ask the officers the status of the investigation when they arrived,” or “could have allowed officers to pat him down for weapons, or he could have informed the officers that he had a knife.”

The former Madison police chief also noted that “Blake could have complied with P.O. Sheskey’s intent to take him into custody” which would have avoided everything that happened afterwards including the shooting, WTMJ reported.

Wray explained in his report that police officers have been trained to shoot “until the perceived threat is stopped” and said it took between 0.7 and 1.5 seconds for an officer to perceive a threat has ended and to stop shooting.

“The officer was pulling on the shirt of Blake and took just over 2.5 seconds to fire seven rounds,” he wrote in the report. “I found that they applied the correct force option to each situation to mitigate threat and stop the active resistance on the part of Blake.”

“I found that the amount of force used by P.O. Sheskey was within the acceptable range,” Wray concluded, according to WTMJ.

The District Attorney’s Office accepted Wray’s findings and Graveley announced that none of the officers involved in the incident would face charges in connection with Blake’s shooting.

Blake’s lawsuit against Officer Sheskey alleged that Blake never tried to “verbally threaten the officers” and claimed he never made “any abrupt physical gestures.”

An attorney for Blake admitted in a statement to ABC News that their client had a folding knife “though he never brandished or threatened to use the knife at any time.”

He has repeatedly claimed he dropped the knife on the floor of his car and was trying to pick it up, but never opened it.

Blake’s lawyers said in the complaint that Blake will remain paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life minute by minute he’s in immense pain,” ABC News reported.

“Jacob may not be able to walk physically, but he takes his first steps by filing this civil lawsuit,” attorney B’Ivory LaMarr said.

Officer Sheskey’s attorney, Brendan Matthews, told ABC News that his client had done the right thing in the moment.

Matthew said Officer Sheskey “was presented with a difficult and dangerous situation and he acted appropriately and in accordance with his training,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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