No police officer will face charges over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin – an incident which sparked protests in the US, Mr Blake was left paralysed from the waist down after being shot several times in the back as he got into a car where his three children were sitting.
The shooting of Mr Blake, a black man, by white policeman Rusten Sheskey on 23 August aggravated racial tensions. Two people died and one was injured in another shooting in Kenosha days later. Kyle Rittenhouse, now 18, denied six charges including first-degree reckless homicide over those shootings when he appeared at a virtual arraignment with his lawyer, Mark Richards, on Tuesday. He was among many armed civilians who descended on the city in answer to calls from right-wing militia after Jacob Blake was shot, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that no criminal charges would be brought against Officer Sheskey. The shooting was captured on video by a bystander.
The district attorney said he “would have to disprove the clear expression of these officers that they had to fire a weapon to defend themselves”. “I do not believe the state would be able to prove that the privilege of self-defence is not available,” he said, quoted by the Associated Press, Mr Graveley added that he had informed Mr Blake of the news before announcing his decision publicly. The Kenosha police union said Mr Blake had been armed with a knife and Officer Sheskey had ordered him several times to drop it but he had refused, the police officer’s lawyer, Brendan Matthews, said Officer Sheskey had fired because Mr Blake had started turning towards him while holding a knife. However, state investigators said only that officers had seen a knife on the floor of the car and did not say whether Mr Blake had threatened anyone with it.
The police officers involved were not equipped with body cameras, the person who shot the video, Raysean White, told CNN that before he had begun filming, he had seen police wrestle, punch and Taser Mr Blake. It was then that he started recording. Mr Blake is shown walking around the front of the SUV, the two officers closest to Mr Blake at this point on the video are white males. As he opens the door and leans into the car, one officer can be seen grabbing his shirt and opening fire. Seven shots can be heard in the video, as witnesses shout and scream. Mr White told AP he had heard police officers shout “Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted but said he had not seen a knife in Mr Blake’s hands.