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Kenosha Police Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake in the Back Seven Times Has Been Identified

The police officer who shot 29-year-old Jacob Blake seven times in the back, paralyzing him, has been identified as Rusten Sheskey, a 7-year veteran at the Kenosha Police Department.

Graphic video of the shooting was recorded by Raysean White, 22, on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The footage showed Blake walking away from officers and attempting to get into his SUV. Blake’s three sons were in the car. It was then that a police officer, now identified as Sheskey, fired seven shots, hitting Blake in the back repeatedly. Blake slumps over the wheel. You can hear the vehicle’s horn honking and witnesses screaming.

White said he heard cops yelling, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” But he said he didn’t see a knife. Authorities claimed that they recovered a knife on the driver’s side of Blake’s vehicle. The Wisconsin Department of Justice claimed that Blake “admitted he had a knife in his possession.” They said no other weapon was found in the vehicle.

“Kenosha Police Department officers were dispatched to a residence in the 2800 block of 40th Street after a female caller reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises,” the Wisconsin DOJ said. “During the incident, officers attempted to arrest Jacob S. Blake, age 29. Law enforcement deployed a taser to attempt to stop Mr. Blake. Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward.”

“While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon 7 times. Officer Sheskey feed the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon,” the statement continued. “Kenosha Police Department does not have body camera, there the officers were not wearing body cameras.”

A new video, which was recorded from the other side of the vehicle, showed that there was a struggle between Blake and police in the moments before Blake walked around the vehicle and opened the driver’s side door. Police said that they unsuccessfully used a Taser before the shooting.

The civilian-recorded video is crucial because, as mentioned above, police in Kenosha don’t have body cameras.

Witnesses said that Blake had been attempting to break up a fight between two women, according to Kenosha News.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who now represents Blake’s family, said in a statement that Blake had been trying to deescalate a domestic incident. Officers drew their weapons and used a Taser, the press release said. Blake walked away to check on his children when police opened fire, according the Crump’s office.

“Their irresponsible, reckless, and inhuman actions nearly cost the life of a man who was simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident,” Crump himself said in a statement. “It’s a miracle he’s still alive.”

No charges have been filed.

The shooting immediately sparked protests, violence and destruction in Kenosha. The American Civil Liberties Union weighed in on Monday by calling this shooting attempted murder.

On Tuesday, a White 17-year-old from Illinois identified as Kyle Rittenhouse, armed with a rifle amid protests in the Kenosha streets, allegedly fired his weapon multiple times. He was arrested and charged on Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide. Two people were killed and one person was injured. Rittenhouse was also officially identified. Video of police giving Rittenhouse a bottle of water has sparked widespread outrage; so has a video juxtaposing police treatment of Blake with Rittenhouse openly walking around with a rifle:

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) said Wednesday that the violence of Tuesday night was “despicable.”

[Image via CBS This Morning screengrab]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.