It may have taken three days, but the name of the officer accused of shooting 29-year-old Jacob Blake has been released. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a statement that he is Rusten Sheskey, a seven year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department. Sheskey was seen on tape on Aug. 23 grabbing Jacob by the back of his shirt and firing at him seven times from behind at close range. Jacob somehow survived the shooting, but is still hospitalized and now paralyzed from the waist down.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is investigating the shooting, and released their first statement on the case on Aug. 26. The department said that “All involved law enforcement are fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation. The involved officers have been placed on administrative leave,” which includes Rusten. We’ve got five things to know about him.
1. Rusten was the only officer present to open fire on Jacob. None of the other Kenosha P.D. officers involved in the incident used their guns. Rusten “fired his service weapon 7 times” into Blake’s back according to the report.
2. Rusten is a seven year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department. The 31-year-old’s service record has not been made available, so it is unclear if he has had any prior complaints against him during his time in uniform. He is now on leave from the department, while his shooting of Blake is being investigated.
3. Rusten was not wearing a body camera. Unfortunately, there will be no look at how things went down with Jacob from Rusten’s point of view, as the investigation update noted that the “Kenosha Police Department does not have body cameras, therefore the officers were not wearing body cameras.” The incident was caught on video by several bystanders with phones, who captured Sheskey shooting Blake seven times.
4. Blake was unarmed at the time of the shooting, but allegedly admitted to having a knife in his vehicle. Per the investigation update, police responded when a “female caller reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises,” even though Blake’s attorney Benjamin Crump says he had been trying to stop a fight. The report claims that officers deployed a taser on Blake, but that it was unsuccessful. Blake then “walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward” and that’s when Sheskey opened fire. After he was shot, the report claims “Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession. DCI agents recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s vehicle. A search of the vehicle located no additional weapons.”
5. Rusten’s shooting of Blake has set off waves of protests in Wisconsin and throughout the sports world, including an NBA boycott of playoff games. During unrest on Aug. 25 in Kenosha in response to Blake’s shooting, a white 17-year-old from Illinois armed with an AR-15 shot and killed two Black Lives Matter protesters and wounded a third. Kyle Rittenhouse has been taken into custody and charged with first-degree homicide stemming the killings. On Aug. 26, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their game five playoff match against the Orlando Magic after Blake’s shooting by a white officer and the deadly civil unrest that followed (Kenosha is located about 45 minutes from Milwaukee). The NBA Player’s Association then announced that two other game five playoff matches for that night had also been cancelled. The MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers postponed their game against the Cincinnati Reds, and the WNBA cancelled their evening’s games as well, all standing with the Bucks’ decision not to play sports.