By Mallika Kallingal and Jamie Crawford, CNN
The Justice Department announced Friday it will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against a Kenosha Police Department officer for his involvement in the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rusten Sheskey, a White officer, shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times while responding to a domestic incident August 23, 2020. Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down.
The department said it made the decision because the evidence is insufficient to prove Sheskey willfully used excessive force. They have informed the Blake family of the decision.
A year after the shooting, Blake told CNN he feels nothing has changed in terms of policing and the general divisiveness of the world, but he’s hopes to change that. “I really don’t feel like I have survived because it could happen to me again. I have not survived until something has changed,” Blake said.
The Justice Department said federal prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney’s Office reviewed detailed evidence to determine whether the police officer violated any federal laws, focusing on a federal criminal civil rights statute which prohibits certain types of official misconduct.
They came to the conclusion there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Sheskey acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. Accidents, mistakes, fear, negligence and bad judgment are insufficient to establish a willful federal criminal civil rights violation.
Earlier this year, it was announced Sheskey would not face state-level charges in the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Sheskey had told investigators he used deadly force during the chaotic encounter because he was afraid Blake, while attempting to flee the scene, was trying to kidnap a child in the back seat of the vehicle.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice had said Blake had a knife in his possession and the weapon was found on the floorboard of his vehicle. Blake himself told authorities he possessed a knife, according to authorities. However, an attorney for Blake’s family had disputed the notion Blake posed a threat.
The current review of the incident has now been closed without a federal prosecution.
CNN has reached out to Jacob Blake for comment on the issue.
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Omar Jimenez, Amir Vera and Brad Parks contributed to this report.