OFFICIALS in Wisconsin have named Rusten Sheskey as the officer who opened fire on Jacob Blake – the black father whose shooting has ignited a wave of violent protests in the city of Kenosha and beyond.
Officer Sheskey, 31, who is white, fired off seven shots as he grabbed onto Blake's shirt after a taser failed to help officers restrain him, Wisconsin Department of Justice said on Wednesday.
The father-of-six was shot seven times in the back in front of his three sons, who were sitting in an SUV that Blake was trying to enter.
Investigators later recovered a knife from the driver's-side foot-well of Blake's car, near the door he had been entering, according to the Wisconsin DOJ statement.
Sheskey and the other officers at the scene of the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, officials added.
A Wisconsin DOJ spokesperson said: "Kenosha Police Department officers were dispatched to a residence in the 2800 block of 40th Street after a female caller reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.
"During the incident, officers attempted to arrest Jacob S. Blake, age 29.
"Law enforcement deployed a taser to attempt to stop Mr. Blake, however the taser was not successful in stopping Mr. Blake.
"Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward.
"While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon seven times.
"Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon.
"Kenosha Police Department does not have body cameras, therefore the officers were not wearing body cameras.
"The shooting officer, Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey, has been a law enforcement officer with Kenosha Police Department for seven years.
"During the investigation following the initial incident, Mr. Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession.
"DCI agents recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s vehicle. A search of the vehicle located no additional weapons."
On Sunday, footage emerged showing Blake, 29, being gunned down by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident,” Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha police union, said in a statement.
Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down but is expected to survive, his attorney, Ben Crump, said in a press conference on Tuesday.
"Those bullets severed his spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae," he said.
"It's going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake to ever walk again.
"He's still struggling for his life."
Mr Crump said the shooting was done with "deliberate indifference".
Blake's mother, Julia Jackson, also addressed reporters and called on the country to unite.
The Sun has contacted Sheskey for comment but he has not responded.
Sheskey last year spoke about his line of work, in an interview with Kenosha News.
"What I like most is that you’re dealing with people on perhaps the worst day of their lives and you can try and help them as much as you can and make that day a little bit better," he said.
"And that, for the most part, people trust us to do that for them. And it’s a huge responsibility, and I really like trying to help the people.
"We may not be able to make a situation right, or better, but we can maybe make it a little easier for them to handle during that time.
"We’re in a public service job, a customer service job, and the public is our customer.
"I think that, especially with the officers that we have here, everybody strives to make sure that the public feels served and happy with the services they receive."
Jacob Blake Sr. described the officer who pulled the trigger on his son as “the flint as well as the gasoline” for the violent riots in Kenosha after the shooting.
“Those police officers that shot my son like a dog in the street are responsible for everything that has happened in the city of Kenosha,” he said.
“My son is not responsible for it. My son didn’t have a weapon. He didn’t have a gun.”
The officers involved have all been place on administrative leave.
Blake's fiancée, Laquisha Booker, told WTMJ that the couple's three children were all in the back of the truck at the time of the shooting.
"That man just literally grabbed him by his shirt and looked the other way and was just shooting him," Booker said.
"With the kids in the back screaming. Screaming."
"That don't make sense that you treat somebody like that, who's not armed. He ain't throw no punch or nothing."
The issue of racism and police brutality towards black people in America has been inflamed over recent months – initially prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
Amid the ongoing protests in Kenosha, a Change.org petition has been set up calling for the cops involved to be charged.
Meanwhile, Kenosha County was forced to close the The Kenosha County Courthouse and Administration Building due to damage sustained on Sunday night.
The shooting drew condemnation from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who also called out 125 members of the National Guard on Monday, after protesters set cars on fire, smashed windows and clashed with officers in riot gear the previous night.
Police first fired tear gas Monday about 30 minutes after the 8 pm curfew took effect to disperse protesters who chanted: “No justice, no peace” as they confronted a line of officers who wore protective gear and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance.
But hundreds of people stuck around, screaming at police and lighting fires, including to a garbage truck near the courthouse.
Tensions had flared anew earlier Monday after a news conference with Kenosha Mayor John Antarmian, originally to be held in a park, was moved inside the city’s public safety building.
Hundreds of protesters rushed to the building and a door was snapped off its hinges before police in riot gear pepper-sprayed the crowd, which included a press photographer.
Blake was transferred to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee after he was shot, the WI DOJ said, where he remains in a serious condition.
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