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Kenosha PD officer who shot Jacob Blake back from administrative leave

Officer Rusten Sheskey of the Kenosha Police Department
Officer Rusten Sheskey of the Kenosha Police Department(Wisconsin Department of Justice)
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 4:27 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 4:34 PM CDT
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KENOSHA, Wis. (WMTV) - The Kenosha Police Department officer who shot Jacob Blake has returned to duty following his administrative leave and an investigation that stated his actions were within the law, according to the police department Tuesday.

In a statement, Kenosha PD chief Daniel Miskinis said Officer Rusten Sheskey returned to duty on March 31.

“Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome; however, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made,” said Miskinis.

Officer Sheskey was not charged for the incident, and the police department states that he acted within the law and his actions were consistent with his training.

Justin Blake and the Leaders of Kenosha, an organization that engages in social justice work, released a statement Tuesday following the announcement.

“The decision to put Rusten Sheskey back on our streets isn’t a slap in the face,” they said. “It’s seven shots in the back of every Black and brown person in Kenosha, and the message is clear: your lives aren’t worth the effort.”

The use of force incident was investigated by an outside agency, as well as was reviewed by an independent expert, which included former Madison Police chief Noble Wray. The department also conducted an internal review of the incident, but found that Sheskey was found to have acted within policy and will not be disciplined.

The decision not to charge officer Sheskey was met with criticism from civil rights advocates and some public officials after the Aug. 23 shooting left Jacob Blake paralyzed.

At the time, Gov. Tony Evers called the decision “further evidence that our work is not done” and called for people to work together for equity.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said then that investigators concluded Blake was carrying a knife when police responded to a report he was trying to steal a car. Office Sheskey said he “feared Jacob Blake was going to stab him with the knife” as he tried to stop Blake from fleeing the scene.

“I do not believe the state ... would be able to prove that the privilege of self-defense is not available,” Graveley said.

Two other officers who were also at the scene of the shooting, officers Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek, returned to duty Wednesday, Jan. 27, after being placed on administrative leave on Aug. 23, 2020.

Officers Areas and Meronek were not charged with a crime. After review by the Kenosha County District Attorney and Wray, the actions taken by the officers were cited as “reasonable and justified,” according to a news release.

In March, Jacob Blake filed an excessive force civil lawsuit against Sheskey, the only defendant cited, and was seeking unspecified damages.

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