Wisconsin cop who shot Jacob Blake returns to work after independent investigation, will not face charges

KENOSHA, Wis. (NewsNation Now) —  The Wisconsin cop who shot a Black man in the back last summer has returned from administrative leave and will not be subjected to discipline after an independent investigation, Kenosha police announced Tuesday.

Kenosha Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake Jr. seven times in the back in August during a domestic dispute, leaving him paralyzed. Blake was holding a pocketknife that had fallen from his pocket during a scuffle with police. Three of Blake’s children were in the back seat of an SUV when the shooting happened. The incident was captured on video that circulated quickly online, fueling protests hours later.

The city of Kenosha Police Department released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

The Kenosha Police use of force incident on August 23, 2020 was investigated by an outside agency; has been reviewed by an independent expert as well as the Kenosha County District Attorney. Officer Sheskey was not charged with any wrong doing. He acted within the law and was consistent with training. This incident was also reviewed internally. Officer Sheskey was found to have been acting within policy and will not be subjected to discipline.

As of March 31, 2021, Officer Sheskey has returned from administrative leave. Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome; however, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made.

Chief Daniel Miskinis

The shooting of Blake, captured on bystander video, turned the nation’s spotlight on Wisconsin during a summer marked by protests over police brutality and racism. It happened three months after George Floyd died while being restrained by police officers in Minneapolis. The white officer charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s killing is currently on trial.

Last month,  Blake filed a civil lawsuit accusing the officer of excessive force. The 18-page complaint includes still photos showing each of the seven shots fired by Sheskey. The officer held the muzzle only a few feet away from where Blake’s two young children were seated, putting them in “imminent danger” from being hit by gunfire or ricocheting bullets, according to the complaint.

Shaskey’s actions were “undertaken with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference to the rights” of Blake, the lawsuit said.

The Wisconsin Attorney General announced in September that a former Madison, Wisconsin police chief would serve as an independent consultant for prosecutors deciding whether to file charges against the officers involved in the shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.