Mar 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Jacob Blake sues Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey

Protesters hold a banner during a community celebration and call for justice for Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for MoveOn

An African American man who was paralyzed after he was shot in the back by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer is suing the officer after prosecutors declined to seek criminal charges.

Why it matters: The federal lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court comes during stalling efforts to massively reshape police departments nationwide after last summer's protest over systemic racism and police excessive force.

Driving the news: Lawyers for Jacob Blake accused Kenosha officer Rusten Sheskey in court documents of excessive deadly force and violating Blake's constitutional rights.

  • Court documents say Sheskey shot Blake in the back with "malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference" to his rights.
  • Blake's lawyers are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
  • No attorney was listed for Sheskey.

Flashback: Video of Sheskey shooting Blake last August went viral online and generated three days of violent protests in the southeastern Wisconsin city.

The bottom line: Activists say police mishandled the situation and didn't need to shoot Blake from behind following a scuffle. Advocates are seeking new legislation to make it easier to prosecute and sue officers for alleged misconduct.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Graveley's full name and title.

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