Joint Statement Issued by Chairs of Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees in Response to Jacob Blake Shooting Investigation Decision
SACRAMENTO - Yesterday, the Kenosha District Attorney's Office announced their decision not to press criminal charges in the unarmed shooting of Jacob Blake, which occurred last summer in Wisconsin, three months after the murder of George Floyd. Blake's shooting resulted in several days of civil and violent unrest in the city, most notably 18-year old Kyle Rittenhouse, arrested and charged with shooting three people with an assault rifle, killing two of them.
On August 23, Officer Rusten Sheskey and his fellow officers responded to a domestic disturbance call concerning Mr. Blake. A bystander's cell phone video captures Officer Sheskey shooting Mr. Blake seven times at close range, leaving him severely injured.
“The decision not to hold accountable officers, whose life-threatening actions resulted in a black man being shot in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed, is beyond disappointing,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer Sr., Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee. “This inaction furthers the distrust by communities of color in our justice system and continues the historical mistreatment by law enforcement of black and brown people without consequence. Senator Bradford and I remain focused on much needed police reform to protect the public by improving the recruitment, training, and evaluation of officers while also barring bad cops from future service.”
“According to reports on his personnel file, Officer Rusten Sheskey has had a well-established history of misconduct since joining the Kenosha police department in 2013,” said Senator Bradford, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee. “Officer Sheskey has had five internal investigations. Mr. Blake was shot seven times at close range in front of his small children, who will have to live with that trauma for the rest of their lives. We cannot allow these egregious acts of violence against black and brown people to continue. The officers past conduct is a clear example of why a Decertification process is needed and the removal of qualified immunity. No other citizen would be exonerated for a similar careless and reckless act. As Public Safety Chairs in our respective houses, Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer and I will be unrelenting in our pursuit of a justice system that protects all communities and the good officers in law enforcement that honor their oath to serve and protect them.”
Senator Bradford is Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, serves as Chair of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color and represents the Los Angeles County communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Torrance, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington.