On August 23, 2020, the white police officer Rusten S. shot the black Jacob Blake seven times in the back. Now, more than four months after the operation in the US city of Kenosha, prosecutors have announced that they will not charge any of the police officers involved. The responsible prosecutor Michael Graveley justified the decision with the right of the officials to self-defense.
Graveley said under current law, particularly the police officer’s right to self-defense, a conviction in a court would have been very unlikely. The police officer feared during the operation that Blake would attack him with a knife and therefore shot. The police had been called to the scene of a dispute and had also known that there was an existing arrest warrant against Blake.
Blake, who was 29 years old at the time, survived the shooting seriously injured and has been paralyzed ever since. Serious protests and rioting broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the shooting at Blake.
Dead in protests: Sagittarius pleads not guilty
Two people were killed in the protests in Kenosha. The then 17-year-old Kyle R. is suspected. He pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday. This was reported by the National Public Radio and the Associated Press news agency, citing an online hearing. The now 18-year-old shooter therefore invokes the right to self-defense. The prosecution charges him, among other things, with murder in two cases. If convicted, he could face life imprisonment.
Kyle R. said he had gone to Kenosha because of the protests and wanted to protect property there from looting. During rioting, he is said to have shot two people with an assault rifle and injured another person. After his arrest in the neighboring state of Illinois, R. was sometimes stylized as a hero by right-wing circles. Even US President Donald Trump defended him in the election campaign and suggested after the incident that he had acted in self-defense. R. is free on bail.
The shots at Jacob Blake took place in an already heated political climate; only about three months earlier the black George Floyd had been killed in a brutal police operation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd’s death sparked sustained protests across the country by the Black Lives Matter movement against police violence and racism.
The city council of Kenosha feared protests in the city because of the indictment ruling in the Jacob Blake case and therefore approved a temporary emergency declaration on Monday in advance, which is now valid for eight days. Governor Tony Evers said he had approved the sending of 500 members of the National Guard to Kenosha. The soldiers will help to support local emergency services, ensure the right to safely protest and protect the infrastructure, the governor said.