Kenosha, Wis. police Officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times last year, will not face federal civil rights charges in court.
NBC News reports that the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday that prosecutors decided against charging Sheskey because they didn’t find enough evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes.”
This comes months after state prosecutors declined to charge Sheskey and two other officers at the scene Blake was shot in August 2020. Officers approached Blake that day after the mother of his three children called police and said he was trying to leave with her vehicle, which had the children in the back seat.
Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting.
From the Associated Press:
Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, called the decision “unconscionable” and said it “definitely steps on every civil right we can imagine this country owes every African American descendant.”
“If we had a heart to be broken, it would be,” he said. “But because we’ve been through all we’ve been, we’re not.”
Sheskey’s shooting of Blake prompted various protests and unrest in Wisconsin and elsewhere–one of which turned deadly after Illinois teen Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters and injured a third in Kenosha. His trial is due to begin in November.
Sheskey has argued that his actions were justified because he believed that Blake was going to leave with his children and use them as hostages. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said in January that because Blake had a knife on his person when officers approached him, he couldn’t disprove Sheskey’s claim that he was afraid that Blake would stab him.