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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.

Go deeper

Asian Americans are underrepresented in law enforcement

An Asian American police officer walks through New York's Chinatown during an annual parade on Feb. 17, 2019. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Asian Americans make up only about 2% of the nation's law enforcement officers — an underrepresentation that ripples through small towns and major cities.

Why it matters: The consequences have been amplified over the past year, as violence and acts of racism grew against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Now, law enforcement agencies are facing criticism for not adequately reporting hate crimes and not having enough Asian American officers on staff to to adequately investigate cases.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.