Bernice King, MLK's Daughter, Condemns Decision Not To Charge Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake

Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., has condemned a Wisconsin prosecutor's decision not to charge the officer who shot Jacob Blake.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced on Tuesday that Rusten Sheskey, a white officer, won't face charges for shooting Blake, a 29-year Black man, seven times in the back during an encounter in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August last year.

Cellphone footage of the shooting, which left Blake paralyzed, sparked days of unrest and rioting in Kenosha during a summer of protests across the U.S., ignited by the police killings of Black people, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

How does shooting a human being in the back up close 7 times not warrant charges?

That shouldn’t make sense or look like justice to anyone.

— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 5, 2021

Graveley's announcement was immediately met with criticism, including from King.

"How does shooting a human being in the back up close 7 times not warrant charges? That shouldn't make sense or look like justice to anyone," she tweeted.

Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers also criticized the decision, calling it "further evidence that out work is not done."

"Jacob Blake's life has forever been changed and his kids witnessed violence no kid should ever see, experienced trauma no kid should ever endure, all while the world watched," he tweeted.

"And yet, when presented the opportunity to rise to this moment and this movement and take action to provide meaningful, commonsense reform to enhance accountability and promote transparency in policing in our state, elected officials took no action."

The state's Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, was harsher in his criticism.

"I wish I could say that I'm shocked. It's another instance in a string of misapplications of justice. It keeps happening, and there's always a new excuse. The non-prosecuting DAs are as negligent as the officers in these situations," Barnes said on Twitter.

During a lengthy news conference on Tuesday, Graveley said Sheskey wouldn't be charged because he did not believe the state could disprove the officer's contention that he acted in self-defense because he feared Blake would stab him.

Graveley said investigators had concluded that Blake was carrying a knife moments before he was shot. He said Blake had admitted to having a knife in his possession and had even describing switching it from one hand to another as he moved to open a car door. He noted that witnesses at the scene were urging Blake to "drop the knife."

But while Sheskey won't face charges in Kenosha, a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting is still underway.

Nowhere does the video footage show a knife extended and aimed to establish the requisite intent. Also, to establish that the officer reasonably believed he was in danger... if he felt in danger, why did he chase Jacob Blake? https://t.co/uP10gHtZeh

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 6, 2021

Meanwhile, Ben Crump, an attorney for Blake's family, said the family would proceed with a civil lawsuit, adding that Graveley's decision "further destroys trust in our justice system."

In a tweet, Crump also questioned whether Blake had threatened Sheskey with a knife. "Nowhere does the video footage show a knife extended and aimed to establish the requisite intent," Crump wrote. "Also, to establish that the officer reasonably believed he was in danger... if he felt in danger, why did he chase Jacob Blake?"

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley
Kenosha County Courthouse District Attorney Michael Graveley announces no charges would be filed against Police Officer Rusten Sheskey for the shooting of Jacob Blake on January 05, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scott Olson/Getty Images