DOJ Opens Civil Rights Probe Into Jacob Blake Shooting

August 27, 2020 Updated: August 27, 2020

The Justice Department has begun a civil rights investigation into the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during an arrest.

The federal investigation will be led by the FBI, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation and other state authorities. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will oversee the progress of the probe.

Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer while officers were responding to a domestic incident on Aug. 23. A female caller had told the police that her boyfriend was present and wasn’t supposed to be on the premises.

Attempts to arrest Blake, who was the subject of an arrest warrant for sexual assault, using a Taser were unsuccessful. At one point, the 29-year-old walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned into his car. One of the officers shot Blake seven times in the back while holding onto his shirt. The officer has since been identified as Rusten Sheskey, who has been a Kenosha Police Department officer for seven years; he’s been placed on administrative leave.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which has also launched a separate investigation, said on Aug. 26 that during an investigation, Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession. Department agents also found a knife on the driver’s side of the floorboard of Blake’s car.

He was rushed to a hospital in critical condition, where he remains. Family attorneys told the media on Aug. 25 that Blake had undergone multiple surgeries.

A criminal complaint obtained by The Epoch Times showed Blake was charged in July with trespassing, third-degree sexual assault, and disorderly conduct.

Epoch Times Photo
Demonstrators stop a car on a street in Kenosha, Wis, on Aug. 24, 2020. (Brendon Bell/Getty Images)
Kenosha
Demonstrators chant in front of a burning truck in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 24, 2020. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Blake’s shooting sparked unrest in Kenosha and other U.S. cities, which has led to at least two deaths amid rioting, looting, and arson incidents. The unrest was triggered after a viral video appeared to show Blake being shot at close range.

The 29-year-old’s mother, Julia Jackson, has denounced the violence, saying that her family is “very hurt” and “quite frankly disgusted.”

“And as his mother, please don’t burn up property and cause havoc and tear your own homes down in my son’s name. You shouldn’t do it,” Jackson said Aug. 25 during an appearance on “CNN Tonight.”

“People shouldn’t do it anyway, but to use my child or any other mother or father’s child, our tragedy, to react in that manner is just not acceptable. And it’s not helping Jacob. It’s not helping Jacob or any other of the men or women who have suffered in these areas,” she added.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice stated that all law enforcement officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave and are cooperating with the investigation.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said on Aug. 26 that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has accepted federal assistance to help quell the rioting in Kenosha.

“My team just got off the phone with Governor Evers who agreed to accept federal assistance,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!”

Zachary Stieber and Isabel Van Brugen contributed to this report.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan