(KENOSHA, Wis.) — Tensions have erupted in Kenosha County, Wisconsin after a district attorney declined to charge the law enforcement officers who were involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was reportedly armed with a knife at the time of the incident.
Blake was shot int the back seven times and his family says he is now paralyzed from the waist down.
District Attorney Mike Graveley alerted Blake of his decision before announcing it to the media.
Graveley says Officer Rusten Sheskey, the man who fired at Blake, reacted in self defense and his use of force was justified.
Officers who arrived first at the scene, say they were responding to a call for domestic violence when they came across Blake. Officers say they deployed a stun gun three times on Blake, but they had no effect. Officers also state that Blake then reached into his vehicle, allegedly to pick up a knife.
Sheskey states that he saw Blake waving a knife in the moments leading up to the shooting and he refused to drop it when commanded. The officer says that Blake then made a threatening motion to stab him.
“I continued to fire until Jacob Blake dropped the knife. I am trained to fire until the threat is stopped,” said Sheshkey. 10 rounds were reportedly left in his gun after Blake fell to the ground.
An unfolded knife was found in Blake’s vehicle after first aid was administered.
The Kenosha Professional Police Association commended the decision to not charge the officers involved in the shooting and said in a statement that the “facts from this incident are finally known” and lambasted politicians for “fanning the flames of civil unrest” by spreading misinformation.
Blake’s family reacted with disappointment to the ruling and say they will continue fighting for justice.
The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights division has not wrapped its investigation on the matter.
In the wake of Blake’s shooting, the The Kenosha Area Business Alliance says $50 million in damages were caused by rioters and looters. Violent demonstrators have reportedly destroyed 35 small businesses.
The mayor of Kenosha has since proposed an emergency declaration to keep the peace and to protect further destruction of private property following the prosecutor’s decision.