The Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a Black man who was paralyzed from the waist down after the shooting in August, has returned to work and will not face discipline, the department announced Tuesday.
Officer Rusten Sheskey returned from administrative leave in late March. He was “found to have been acting within policy and will not be subjected to discipline,” according to a statement from Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis on Tuesday.
The determination was made after an outside investigation and independent expert review, the statement said.
“Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I understand that some will not be pleased with the outcome; however, given the facts, it was the only lawful and appropriate decision to be made,” Miskinis said.
Sheskey was not charged in the shooting. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley told reporters in January that Sheskey and other officers would have had a strong case for self-defense.
“If you don’t believe you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have an ethical obligation not to issue charges,” Graveley said at the time.
Blake filed a federal complaint against Sheskey, the only defendant, last month seeking unspecified damages.
Police initially released few details on the Blake shooting, saying that the officers were responding to a domestic incident. But bystander video of the incident was posted online and received national attention.
In the video, Blake appeared to be walking away from officers and had opened the front driver’s side door when he was shot from behind. Authorities said both Sheskey and another officer attempted to us their stun guns on Blake but could not stop him.
Blake was near a knife when he was shot, state prosecutors have said, and a blade was found in the footwell of the vehicle. Raysean White, the bystander who recorded the video, said he heard police yelling “drop the knife!” but never saw Blake armed with a blade.
Kenosha police officers were not equipped with body cameras at the time of the shooting.
While it was previously believed that Blake was shot seven times in the back, further examination of Blake’s medical records found that he had three entrance wounds on his left side and four shots to his back, Graveley said in January following the announcement that there would be no charges against the officers.
He said that while it is “absolutely appropriate” to ask whether seven shots is excessive, Sheskey said he continued to fire until the “threat” stopped as part of his training.
The shooting of Blake occurred only a few months after George Floyd died while officers attempted to arrest him in Minneapolis last summer. Four officers have been charged in connection Floyd’s death, and one currently stands trial for murder and manslaughter charges.
Blake’s shooting renewed a wave of protests in Kenosha and around the country, demanding police reform following highly publicized cases of Black people being severely injured or killed by police.
This is a breaking story, please check back for updates.