Attorneys representing Jacob Blake have filed a civil lawsuit against Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Blake in the side and back during a confrontation in August 2020.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, according to a press release from civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is one of three attorneys representing Blake on the case.
“While Jacob Blake survived six times, his devastating injuries are permanent and life changing. The bullet that severed Jacob’s spinal cord paralyzed him and tied him to a wheelchair. Jacob is now suffering from intractable pain syndrome, “Attorney Patrick Salvi II said in a statement. “After various surgical procedures and excruciating physical rehabilitation, Jacob still cannot return to his job as a security guard and relies on others to support him with basic needs of daily life.”
The decision to file the lawsuit comes almost three months after Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that there would be no criminal complaint against Sheskey or the other officials involved in the case.
The lawsuit alleges that the shooting was not justified. The lawyers said the shooting was “excessive and unnecessary”.
“Nothing can reverse this tragedy or eliminate the suffering of Jacob, his children and the rest of the Blake family,” Crump said in a statement. But hopefully today is a significant step in getting justice for them and holding Officer Sheskey responsible for his near-fatal acts – acts that have robbed Jacob of his ability to walk. The road to ending police brutality is long and arduous, but the fight for systemic police change and transparency – and for justice – can only be done with accountability. And that’s what we hope to achieve with this submission. “
Jacob Blake’s family lawyers said they were “immensely disappointed” with the Kenosha District Attorney’s decision not to indict officials involved in last summer’s controversial shootings, but continued to urge a peaceful response to the decision. NBC 5’s Alex Maragos got the latest on Kenosha.
In detailing his ruling in January, the Kenosha County prosecutor emphasized that his ruling was “laser-focused” on what is acceptable in a court case.
“It means this case is all about self-defense and it can be proven that it doesn’t exist,” Graveley said. “It’s about Officer Sheskey’s perspective. What is his knowledge in each moment, and what does a reasonable officer do in any moment? Almost none of these things are answered by the deeply disturbing video we have all seen.”
The Blake family lawyer said they were “immensely disappointed” with the decision.
“We believe this decision has failed not only Jacob and his family, but also the community that protested and called for justice,” Crump said in a statement following the January ruling The police officer who shot Jacob several times in the back and has paralyzed him not to prosecute further destroys trust in our justice system. This sends the wrong message to police officers across the country. It is said that it is okay for the police to abuse their power and ruthlessly shoot their gun and destroy the life of someone who has tried to protect their children. “
In the shooting, Blake, who is black, was shot seven times in the back after walking away from Sheskey and two other officers who were trying to arrest him. Blake was shot after opening the driver’s door of an SUV and leaning into the vehicle, and the shooting was captured on a cell phone video.
Graveley and officials said Blake was armed with a knife at the time of the incident and that Blake admitted to police that he had a knife that was later recovered from his vehicle.
“Jacob Blake admits he has a knife. It’s not a cell phone. He admits it,” Graveley said. “It’s a razor-type knife and we had a DCI analyst take the shape and size to match it with the picture, and indeed it’s a match. We say with confidence, based on its recording, to officials, who it and the video say he is clearly armed with a knife as he approaches the driver’s door. “
The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down, sparking days of protests and demonstrations, as well as several nights of looting and vandalism.