White police officer cleared of charges in Wisconsin shooting of black man
Published: Jan 06, 2021 06:28 PM
Wisconsin prosecutors on Tuesday cleared a white police officer of criminal charges in the shooting of a black man from behind in the presence of his young children, leaving him paralyzed and triggering deadly protests that inflamed US racial tensions.

National Guard troops stand watch as demonstrators protest outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Tuesday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Photo: VCG

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley found officer Rusten Sheskey acted in self-defense while responding to a domestic dispute on  August 23, 2020 and shooting Jacob Blake seven times at close range, saying Blake was armed with a knife and had resisted arrest, withstanding multiple Taser shots.

The decision against prosecuting Sheskey or the two other officers on the scene could incite more demonstrations, which have frequently broken out in the US in recent years after police have been cleared of wrongdoing in shootings of African-Americans.

Calm remained after dark as about 50 people braved subfreezing temperatures and marched through streets where storefronts had been boarded up in anticipation of unrest.

"This is an expression of our deep suffering," said Caliph Muab'El, a black minister, as he rode along in a car behind the marchers. "I wasn't surprised by the decision. It's a perpetuation of the same old, same old that we see in this country."

Kenosha, a city of 100,000 people between Milwaukee and Chicago, had braced for the decision, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to support local law enforcement.

Protests broke out in summer 2020 in response to viral cellphone video that showed Blake walking around the front of his car with Sheskey following and opening fire after Blake opened the door. But investigators said the video was incomplete, failing to reveal that Blake was armed with a knife.
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