KENOSHA, WI – Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed after a police officer shot him in the back last August in Kenosha, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer who shot him due to him allegedly using excessive force.
New story on NPR: Jacob Blake Files Excessive Force Lawsuit Against Kenosha Police Officer Who Shot Him https://t.co/GlRpzIc0CH
— Leigh Warner (@leroyith) March 27, 2021
The case, filed on March 25th in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, names only one defendant: Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey.
Blake sustained “catastrophic, permanent injuries” as a direct result of Officer Sheskey’s conduct, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages as well as punitive damages, attorney’s fees, as well as other compensation.
Blake’s legal team includes high-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has worked with numerous families of alleged victims of police brutality and most notably assisted the Floyd family in reaching a $27 million civil settlement with the city Minneapolis.
When referencing the civil case pertaining to Blake, Crump stated:
“Nothing can undo this tragedy or take away the suffering endured by Jacob, his children, and the rest of the Blake family. But hopefully today is a significant step in achieving justice for them and holding Officer Sheskey answerable for his nearly deadly actions — actions that have deprived Jacob of his ability to walk.”
Back in January, it was determined by prosecutors that Officer Sheskey actions during the incident did not amount to a criminal act, and thus no charges were filed against the officer. Furthermore, the state had opted to not file any criminal charges against Blake either.
Currently, Officer Sheskey is still employed with the Kenosha Police Department, but he’s reportedly on administrative leave at this time.
Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old Black man who was shot seven times by a White police officer who was responding to a domestic incident on August 23, 2020, has sued the officer for excessive force in federal court, records show. https://t.co/JD0Be2vSOO
— CNN (@CNN) March 26, 2021
Officer Sheskey fired seven shots at point blank range as Blake walked away from him and towards the driver’s side of a parked vehicle, according to the 19-page complaint filed with the courts.
According to the lawsuit, six of those rounds penetrated Blake’s body, with at least one severing his spinal cord and “instantly rendering his fully seated body limp upon impact.”
At the time of the incident, officers were deployed to the area for what was originally deemed as “family trouble” as Blake was leaving a party for his son’s eighth birthday following a verbal altercation between two women.
Officers had reportedly approached Blake as he was loading one of his sons into a Dodge SUV’s backseat.
Police at the time were attempting to place Blake under arrest for an outstanding warrant related to sexual assault. Months after the shooting incident, prosecutors opted to drop the charges related to the alleged sexual assault.
Just about all the facts relevant to the August incident have already been made public, and while misinformation was swirling initially after the officer-involved shooting, it was later found out that Blake was also in possession of a knife during the incident.
Hey CBS cool pic with his child, now do one where he was reaching for a knife and resisting arrest.
— graham thorne🌻Zen Monarchist🌻 (@grahamjthorne) March 26, 2021
In fact, Blake even admitted in an interview in January that he was in possession of a knife during the incident. With that in mind, it’s without question that the topic of Blake being armed while encountering officers during the incident is going to be brought up during litigation.
Also, while Blake’s lawsuit hones in on the aspect of the incident where Officer Sheskey discharged his firearm and shot him, a proper review of the evidence in the case is going to also require examining the numerous times Blake disobeyed lawful commands administered by police prior to the shooting.
Even if Blake’s lawsuit winds up being successful, it’s unclear what assets that the 31-year-old police officer would have access to that can be weighed into a potential favorable judgement for the plaintiff.
At the end of the day, if the lawsuit actually goes to trial (which 95% of lawsuits never do), it’s a genuine toss-up on whether Blake or Officer Sheskey is going to be named as the majority-culpability owner of the incident that resulted in Blake’s injuries.
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Back in January, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report pertaining to the false rumors of Jacob Blake not being armed during the encounter with law enforcement getting dispelled.
Here’s that previous report.
KENOSHA, WI – During a recent press conference regarding the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, it was announced that no charges would be filed regarding the incident.
But more importantly, Kenosha District Attorney Michael Gravely also took the time to both address and debunk many of the swirling and false narratives provided by media outlets regarding the August 23rd incident.
Kenosha District Attorney Debunks False Media Claims On Jacob Blake: ‘Incontrovertible’ He Was Armed https://t.co/uGQUQx2WcX
— D.R. Couric (@DRCouric) January 6, 2021
A simple look at how outlets reported on the officer-involved shooting of Blake can demonstrate why many consumers of mainstream media outlets were mislead on what transpired that August day.
ABC 7 reported on August 24th that, “police shot an unarmed Black man several times in the back.”
On August 27th, Politifact had the audacity to produce a “fact check” claiming that Blake could have been carrying, “a knife, sunglasses or something else.”
On August 24th, CNN declared that video from the incident “showed officers shoot unarmed Jacob Blake multiple times.”
Turns out that those outlets, and many others that proclaimed that narrative, were completely wrong.
Why the Hell is the MEDIA STILL LYING ABOUT JACOB BLAKE?
Got to do an update video.
He was armed with a knife, a felony warrant, resisted arrest, and was committing a felony (stealing a car & violating a RO).
Why keep this lie alive?
— Nate The Lawyer (@NatetheLawyer) January 6, 2021
When addressing the press during the recent announcement of no charges being filed against officers in the shooting of Blake, DA Gravely pointed out that there was indeed a knife present, held by Blake, and Blake even admitted to having it:
“Very important, Jacob Blake, while actively resisting, arms himself with a knife.”
“I continue to hear, I think I heard it at the rally last night, the vigil, where someone again said he was unarmed. It is absolutely incontrovertible that Jacob Blake was armed with a knife during this encounter. Incontrovertible.”
“Most incontrovertible, because Jacob Blake in all of the times he spoke to DCI, admits he possessed a knife.”
To the credit of some media outlets, there’s been attempts at retractions made in light of the revelation. USA Today had their own iteration of a “fact check” back in August proclaiming that the knife Blake was holding couldn’t be confirmed.
Yet, on January 5th, USA Today posted an editor’s note that prefaced the August “fact check” saying, “that Jacob Blake was armed with a ‘razor blade-type knife’ when he was shot by police.”
However, even on that update to the article, USA Today also wrote that this update “does not affect the rating for this item; ratings are based on what is known at the time.”
Basically, USA Today won’t admit that they were just flat-out wrong in August, but rather just not privy to all the facts at the time.
But what was most surprising is that on January 5th, The Washington Post still attempted to reiterate that Blake was “unarmed” on the very same day that DA Gravely provided proof that Blake was armed during the police encounter.
THERE it is! pic.twitter.com/H1zPkONTcS
— Dylan Martinez (@DylanMartinez21) January 6, 2021
After getting called out by several people online, WaPo did print a retraction on those statements made in their produced piece and social media posts in relation to.
But aside from the armed/unarmed clamoring made by outlets back in August and the months that followed – there was just general framing that alluded to police just wantonly shooting Blake without attempting other methods of arrest.
DA Gravely also debunked those notions as well:
“There are many commands disobeyed and that’s not only talked about by all the officers, but that’s admitted by Jacob Blake in his statements and there are a number of civilians who talk about that as well.”
“And there are multiple ways that officers try to bring Jacob Blake into custody, again, none of those I think visible in any of the videos.”
“They try to direct him to the ground, they try to grab, multiple officers try to grab his arms and secure him so he can be cuffed. He admits at one point officers were trying to ‘handcuff me but I was able to get up.’”
“There’s a time where he’s down on the ground…where a really close viewing of it shows Jacob Blake is on top of someone who has to be Officer Sheskey based on everyone else and Officer Sheskey says, ‘I was on top of him and then he was on top of me as we were grappling for me trying to get him under arrest.’”
And apparently, aside from ground scuffles in an attempt to get Blake into custody, there was a taser used on him three times – which apparently didn’t affect Blake in those moments:
“Most importantly, he was tased twice using remote penetrators and once with a direct strike with Taser. So, I’m going to suggest to you three attempts were made to tase Jacob Blake to get him in compliance.”
There’s really no other way to say it: media outlets with their early version of reporting on this officer-involved shooting managed to get a lot wrong with their version of events relayed to the public.
And as a very likely result of these false version of events that were spread on a national-level, Kenosha became the site of not merely protests – but full blown riots that saw businesses looted and burned to the ground.
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