State prosecutors decided not to file charges against Officer Rusten Sheskey earlier this year after the video showed that Blake, who was wanted on a felony warrant, was armed with a knife. The action sparked several protests in Kenosha, WI, and ignited the calls for action from those in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The U.S. Department of Justice launched its own investigation days after the shooting, which concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Sheskey willfully used excessive force or violated Blake’s federal rights.
“Accordingly, the review of this incident has been closed without a federal prosecution,” the Justice Department said in a news release.
Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, called the decision “unconscionable” and said it “definitely steps on every civil right we can imagine this country owes every African-American descendant.”
“If we had a heart to be broken, it would be,” he said. “But because we’ve been through all we’ve been, we’re not.”
In the video, Blake contests the officers as they tried to take him into custody. Sheskey and another officer tried to shock him with their stun guns but were unsuccessful. Blake tried to get into his SUV which contained his young children in the backseat, but that prompted Sheskey to restrain him by grabbing his T-shirt.
Sheskey told investigators that he was afraid Blake would drive off with the children or use them as hostages.
The shooting of Jacob Blake came three months after Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, and sparked several nights of protest in downtown Kenosha. Kyle Rittenhouse was there during the third night of protests after answering a local militia’s call to protect businesses from “looters and vandals”.
Rittenhouse ended up shooting three people, Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, killing Rosenbaum and Huber. Grosskreutz was wounded in the arm. Conservatives and antagonistic militias have rallied around Rittenhouse, raising $2 million to cover his bail, while the now-18-year-old has argued that he fired in self-defense after the three men attacked him.
The family of Jacob Blake has not responded with any further comment on the matter.