Prosecutors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday decided not to file a criminal complaint against police officers in the August shooting of Jacob Blake.
Blake’s shooting caused NBA players to protest by not playing games August 26-28. More than 100 NBA employees went out in solidarity with the players on August 28th. The WNBA postponed six games on August 26th and 27th. In addition, 14 major league baseball games were postponed when players refused to take the field, including an August 26th game involving the Milwaukee Brewers.
Blake, who is black, was shot and killed seven times by white Kenosha policeman Rusten Sheskey on August 23. Blake was paralyzed. The shooting, which took place in front of Blake’s three children and was captured on video, sparked protests in Kenosha, in which more than 250 people were arrested during several days of unrest.
The other two local police officers – Brittany Meronek and Vincent Arenas – are also not charged, according to Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley.
Graveley said Tuesday that he “would have to refute the plain language used by these officers that they must fire a weapon to defend themselves.”
“I don’t think the state … can prove that the privilege of self-defense is not available,” added Graveley, who said he informed Blake of the decision not to file charges.
Graveley said it was “undeniable” that Blake was armed with a “razor-blade knife” when he was shot. Graveley said Blake admitted to owning the knife, but the district attorney had no plans to indict him.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Blake’s family, expressed disappointment at the decision not to charge the police officers, saying this “further destroys trust in our judicial system” and sent a message saying it was okay for the police to use their power to abuse He will continue to file a lawsuit and fight for systemic change in the police force.
“We believe this decision has failed not only Jacob and his family, but also the community that protested and demanded justice,” said Crump and his co-counsel in a statement, adding, “We urge Americans to To keep raising their voices and calling for change in a peaceful and positive way during this emotional time. ”
In a later tweet, Crump also asked if Blake had threatened Sheskey with a knife, saying, “Nowhere does the footage show a knife extended and aimed at determining the required intent.”
The Milwaukee Bucks, whose refusal to play a game against the Orlando Magic on August 26, marked the beginning of a three-day stop in the NBA while players discussed a reaction to the shootout, issued a statement Tuesday night.
“The Bucks organization remains firmly opposed to excessive use of force by law enforcement,” the team said. “The past year has shed light on the ongoing racial injustices that our African American and other marginalized communities face. Recurrent cases of excessive use of violence and immediate escalation in engaging the black community must stop. We will continue to work on political ones Make changes to make these incidents occur. ” do not exist anymore. As an organization, we remain committed to addressing issues of social injustice and anti-racism and to making meaningful changes for African Americans and all marginalized members of our community. “
– Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 6, 2021
Wesley Matthews, the Los Angeles Lakers Guardian, who was a member of the Bucks last season, said of Tuesday’s decision: “Really, it’s disheartening.”
“It’s all about right and wrong. But … it cannot deter citizens who are trying to do right, who are trying to fight for equality, who are trying to fight for the right things. It cannot deter us “We can’t lose our heads, we can’t start rioting, we have to be calculated, we have to keep our foot on the pedal, we have to keep our foot on the gas,” he said.
“These are lives. These are lives here. It’s angry as a Wisconsinite. It’s angry as a human that justice is not justice. It’s tough. But it can’t get us off the path we’re trying to get.” to what equality is and just right and wrong. “
Utah jazz star Donovan Mitchell struggled to find words to address the prosecutor’s decision.
“It just comes to a point like what else? What else? Do you know what I mean? There I really am. You look at that, you look at Breonna Taylor. It’s just, what else? What else?” have no words. It’s sad that it has become a thing that you don’t expect justice in, “said Mitchell.
“It’s like, man, being an African American, it’s one of those things you’re scared of. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most famous person in the world or whatever at the end of the day i play basketball but i’m an african american man and i have african american women in my life and so on. it’s just disheartening man. it’s sad. it’s hard to see. “
LeBron James, who was a leading voice from the Florida Bubble of the NBA at Walt Disney World Resort in August, responded Tuesday to a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr .: “An unjust law is not a law at all” – this was posted by Common on Twitter.
James added: “In general !!!”
EVER !!! 😤😤😤😤😤😤. 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/m3iv1NZxQY
– LeBron James (@KingJames) January 5, 2021
Meanwhile, the men’s Marquette basketball team wore black uniforms for Tuesday’s home game in Milwaukee against UConn, “to support Jacob Blake, his family and the Kenosha community in response to today’s announcement.”
“We are extremely disappointed with the decision regarding Jacobs Shooting and will continue to use our platform to advocate and fight for racial justice,” the team said in a statement on the program’s Twitter account. “This is another reminder that just because racial and social injustices haven’t received so much attention lately, the need to fight them doesn’t go away.”
– Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) January 6, 2021
“We wanted to wear the black uniforms, regardless of the situation [Sheskey] was charged or not, ”said Marobette Guard Koby McEwen after losing the Golden Eagle. “If he was charged, it was support for it. If justice was not served, it was in protest against [the decision]. “
A federal civil rights investigation into Blake’s shooting is ongoing. Matthew Krueger, the US attorney for Wisconsin’s Eastern District, said the Justice Department will make its own indictment decision.
Graveley told reporters during a two-hour presentation Tuesday afternoon that investigators discovered that the events leading up to the shooting began when the mother of Blake’s children called the police and said Blake was about to drive off in her car. On the way, the officers discovered that Blake had an arrest warrant against him for sexual assault.
They arrived and found Blake putting the couple’s three children in the back seat of the woman’s SUV. According to Graveley, officers had no choice but to arrest him as he was wanted. He said Blake struggled and struggled with the officers when they tried to handcuff him and those officers stun guns at him three times with no effect.
Noble Wray, a former black police chief and expert on the use of force who was reviewing the investigation, said Blake had a knife that apparently fell to the ground during the fight. Blake picked it up, officers broke up and drew their guns, and Blake then tried to get into the SUV, Wray said.
Sheskey grabbed Blake’s shirt, said Graveley. Blake turned and moved the knife toward Sheskey, the officer told investigators, making him believe his life was in danger, the prosecutor said.
Sheskey shot seven times, hit Blake four times in the back and three times in the side, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
The cell phone video, widely circulated after the incident, shows Blake walking to the driver’s door of an SUV while officers scream with guns drawn. When Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, Sheskey grabs Blake’s shirt from behind and opens fire.
The officers were not equipped with body cameras.
Prosecutors dropped the sexual assault charges against Blake in November as part of an agreement in which he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor offenses. He was sentenced to two years probation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.