Jacob Blake had a weapon on the driver’s side of his vehicle when a police officer, who has now been identified as Rusten Sheskey, shot him seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Sunday evening. Blake was leaning into that side of the vehicle when the officer discharged his weapon.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, police recovered a knife from the floorboard, but the agency did not say whether Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was holding the weapon when Sheskey shot him in the back, which left Blake paralyzed, according to his family’s lawyers. Video stills of the incident appear to show Blake holding a small object resembling a knife prior to the shooting, but the department has not confirmed nor denied that detail.
During the investigation, Blake admitted to having the knife, according to officials. Police didn’t recover any other weapons.
Sheskey, who gripped Blake’s shirt as he fired his gun at the man’s back, has been put on administrative leave. The officer has been with the Kenosha Police Department for seven years.
According to a DOJ news release, officers were responding to a domestic dispute call from a woman who said her boyfriend was present but was not permitted to be on the premises. During the encounter, officers tried to arrest Blake, grappled with him on the ground, and used a Taser, but these weren’t successful in apprehending him.
According to the release and visible on a neighbor’s video of the incident, next “Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward,” before Sheskey fired his gun. No other police officers fired their weapons.
Although Kenosha leaders had unanimously greenlighted a plan in 2017 to purchase body cameras for law enforcement officers, police were still not equipped with them. The uncertainty of details about objectionable encounters with law enforcement underscores the need for the recording devices to maintain accountability among officers and the accuracy of reporting.
After the shooting, the officers immediately administered medical aid to Blake until Flight for Life transported him to a Milwaukee hospital, where he is now located, according to the DOJ release. All officers involved in the incident were also placed on administrative leave and are cooperating with an ongoing investigation.
The Wisconsin DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation, which probes shootings involving police officers, will compile an investigative report and turn it over to the prosecutor within 30 days of the incident. The prosecutor will then decide whether to levy any charges against the officers in question.
According to court records, an arrest warrant was issued against Blake on July 7 for felony third-degree sexual assault, as well as misdemeanor charges of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, all related to domestic abuse.
In the wake of the Blake shooting, violent rioters set Kenosha ablaze. Arsonists ignited private property ranging from dumpster fires in the streets to infernos engulfing an entire car lot. Despite Mayor John Antaramian instituting an 8 p.m. curfew, anarchists broke windows and looted local stores throughout the night, leaving small business owners and locals reeling after the Wuhan coronavirus had already left many with uncertainty and financial insecurity.
A closer look at just one of the buildings (the local furniture store) currently up in flames in Kenosha tonight: pic.twitter.com/2EvasISbN1
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) August 25, 2020
“When we came on scene, it was just carnage,” said Daniel Esposito after rioters destroyed four of his buildings. “I just don’t understand why something like this would happen. It’s frustrating. I don’t understand why people do these things.”
"Total carnage, I just don't understand why something like this would happen" says Daniel Esposito, owner of 4 buildings that were vandalized and looted lastnight in #Kenosha pic.twitter.com/c9EfvN16ku
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) August 25, 2020
Lawlessness escalated Tuesday night in Kenosha when three shootings in the streets left two people dead and another wounded. Police apprehended the alleged shooter, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse from Antioch, Illinois, Wednesday morning, charging him with first-degree intentional homicide.
Holy shit gunshots I think pic.twitter.com/YVM3VGmatQ
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) August 26, 2020
GRAPHIC WARNING: Person shot in the head during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Daily Caller's @RichieMcGinniss rushes in, applies pressure to the wound and carries him to the hospital.
The media doesn't want you to see this, but it's a war zone. pic.twitter.com/uBhEkTTqFp
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) August 26, 2020
The mayhem in Kenosha comes even as the dust is still settling in other cities across the country from riots that broke out after the tragic death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody at the end of May. As The Federalist’s Tristan Justice reported, “On Tuesday, anarchic militants in Portland continued their 90th consecutive night of terror, having already injured about 300 sworn state and federal agents with injuries ranging from minor wounds to serious eye damage.” Since Floyd’s death, more than 30 people have been killed due to the riots, as of Wednesday. Democrats made no mention of the lawlessness during last week’s Democratic National Convention.
Although many in the media continue to insist the so-called protests are mostly peaceful — even as cities burn behind reporters — some people are starting to realize the lack of law and order is all too real — and in fact, is damning for Democrats, who have failed to uphold the rule of law, keep their cities under control, and condemn violence, even as the 2020 election looms.
“In Kenosha County, where the president won by fewer than 250 votes in 2016, those who already supported Mr. Trump said in interviews that the events of the past few days have simply reinforced their conviction that he is the man for the job,” The New York Times reported Wednesday. “But some voters who were less sure of their choice said the chaos in their city and the inability of elected leaders to stop it were currently nudging them toward the Republicans.”
The article continued, “And some Democrats, nervous about condemning the looting because they said they understood the rage behind it, worried that what was happening in their town might backfire and aid the president’s re-election prospects.”