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‘Back on the Job’: Kenosha, Wisconsin, Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake Seven Times, Leaving Him Paralyzed, Has Returned to Duty

The Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer who shot Jacob Blake in the back multiple times last year, igniting unrest in the city, has returned to duty without facing discipline, officials announced Tuesday.

Rusten Sheskey, who shot Blake seven times in August, returned to work on March 31, according to a release from the Kenosha Police Department. The release stated that an internal investigation found that Sheskey did not violate department policy and “will not be subjected to discipline.”

District Attorney Michael Graveley announced in January that Sheskey wouldn’t face any charges for the Aug. 23 incident that left Blake paralyzed from the waist down and kept him hospitalized for months while recovering from the shooting.

Jacob Blake (above) was left paralyzed after he was shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer. (Photo: Ben Crump video screenshot)

“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,” Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said in a statement. 

The news of Sheskey’s return to duty comes days after tensions were reignited when a Minnesota officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright after a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said Officer Kim Potter shot Wright with her firearm accidently after he got back into his car as he was being taken into custody for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant, and that Potter had intended to deploy a stun gun.

Both Potter and Gannon have resigned after public outrage over Wright’s death mounted.

On the day Blake was shot, police responded to a woman’s 911 call about a man who was at her home with her car keys attempting to leave, and the man was not supposed to be at her home. Responding officers knew there was a felony arrest warrant out for Blake for a previous incident involving the same woman, who is the mother of some of Blake’s children.

During an attempt to arrest Blake officers used a Taser on him, but the effort to subdue him was unsuccessful.

“Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward,” a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice read. “While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon 7 times. Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon.”

Peter Salvi, one of Blake’s attorneys, said he was surprised to learn Sheskey had returned to work and asked, “How can anyone say this is a desired result for a police encounter?” 

Kenoha Officer Rusten Sheskey returned to work March 31 after shooting and paralyzing Jacob Blake last August. (Photo: CBS/ YouTube screenshot)

Footage of the incident captured a a bystander sparked unrest across the country, just months after the deaths of other Black people killed by police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Clashes among opposing groups of demonstrators turned violent two days after Blake was shot when 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse drove from Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha and fatally shot two Black Lives Matter protesters with an AR-15-style rifle.

Rittenhouse faces multiple felony charges, including including reckless homicide and reckless endangerment. His trial is scheduled for November.

Sheskey had been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. Police said he has not yet returned to patrolling Kenosha’s streets because he needs to catch up on training.

A federal civil lawsuit filed against Sheskey is still pending. The suit claims that Sheskey’s use of force was excessive and that Blake’s Fourth Amendments rights against unreasonable seizure was violated.

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