The officer who shot Jacob Blake was identified
Protesters march in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis, on Wednesday.Credit...Kamil Krzaczynski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Wisconsin’s attorney general on Wednesday identified the white police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, multiple times in Kenosha, Wis., as Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the city’s police force.

The attorney general, Josh Kaul, said that Officer Sheskey fired his gun at Mr. Blake seven times, including into his back. Mr. Kaul said that the officers who were involved in the incident, including Officer Sheskey, had been placed on administrative leave.

Mr. Kaul also said on Wednesday that Mr. Blake had acknowledged having a knife “in his possession” when the shooting occurred and that investigators had found a knife on the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s car after the shooting.

The information was part of an update that Mr. Kaul provided about the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s investigation into the shooting of Mr. Blake on Sunday, which touched off protests that continued into Wednesday and turned violent at times.

Lawyers representing Mr. Blake said the police had been the aggressors.

Mr. Blake, the lawyers said, “didn’t harm anyone or pose any threat to the police, yet they shot him seven times in the back in front of his children,” who were in the car at the time of the incident.

As to the knife, the lawyers said, “Witnesses confirm that he was not in possession of a knife and didn’t threaten officers in any way.”

Mr. Kaul gave the following account of the events leading up to the shooting:

Officers answered a report from a woman that “her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.”

After responding to the call, the officers tried to arrest Mr. Blake. It was not clear from Mr. Kaul’s statement what connection, if any, Mr. Blake had to the call that summoned the officers.

In the course of confronting Mr. Blake, the officers fired a stun gun at him, but “it was not successful” in stopping him. “Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door and leaned forward,” Mr. Kaul wrote.

At that point, Officer Sheskey grabbed Mr. Blake’s shirt and fired his service weapon repeatedly. (The Kenosha police do not use body cameras, Mr. Kaul noted.)

Mr. Kaul said the state Justice Department’s Division of Criminal Investigation planned to report its findings to a prosecutor in 30 days, and that the prosecutor would then determine what charges, if any, would be brought.

The Justice Department will investigate the shooting.

Attorney General William P. Barr and other Trump administration officials insist that systemic racism does not exist in U.S. police departments. 
Attorney General William P. Barr and other Trump administration officials insist that systemic racism does not exist in U.S. police departments. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would open a federal civil rights investigation into Officer Rusten Sheskey’s shooting of Jacob Blake.

The F.B.I. will conduct the federal inquiry in cooperation with Wisconsin authorities, the department said in a statement.

“The federal investigation will run parallel to, and share information with, state authorities to the extent permissible under law,” the department said in its statement.

This is the second such investigation for the department this year involving a white police officer and a Black man.

In May, the department said it had opened an inquiry into Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer who was videotaped kneeling on the neck of George Floyd during an arrest. Mr. Floyd died a short time later, and the killing touched off protests across the country that have continued throughout the summer.

Attorney General William P. Barr said when the investigation into Mr. Chauvin’s conduct was announced that it would proceed quickly. A department spokeswoman said on Wednesday that she had no update to provide.

Civil rights advocates, and even some lawyers inside the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, doubt the department will announce a decision or take action in either case before the presidential election, especially given that Mr. Trump has built his re-election campaign in part around his staunch support for law enforcement officers.

Criminal charges in either case could alienate Mr. Trump’s supporters, and decisions not to prosecute in either matter could further inflame the protests that have swept the country since May.

Mr. Barr and other administration officials insist that systemic racism does not exist in the nation’s police forces, and the Justice Department under Mr. Trump has mostly stopped using consent decrees and other means to investigate, monitor and curb police abuses.

Mr. Barr’s supporters say he has successfully pursued cases against police officers in the past.

When he was attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, the Justice Department charged four white Los Angeles officers who beat Rodney King, a Black motorist, with violating Mr. King’s civil rights after the state case against them ended in acquittals. Two of the officers were convicted in the federal case.

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