Rusten Sheskey, a white officer, shot Blake, a 29-year-old black man, seven times while responding to a domestic incident on August 23, 2020. Blake survived the shooting but was paralyzed from the waist down.
The department said it made the decision because the evidence is insufficient to prove that Sheskey intentionally used excessive force. They have informed the Blake family of the decision.
A year after the shooting, Blake told CNN that he feels nothing has changed in terms of surveillance and the overall division of the world, but he hopes to change that. “I really don’t feel like I survived because it could happen to me again. I haven’t survived until something has changed,” Blake said.
The Justice Department said federal prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office reviewed detailed evidence to determine whether the police officer violated any federal law, focusing on a federal criminal civil rights statute that prohibits certain types of official misconduct.
They concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Sheskey acted with the deliberate and specific intention of doing something prohibited by law. Accidents, mistakes, fear, negligence, and poor judgment are insufficient to establish a deliberate violation of federal criminal civil rights.
Sheskey had told investigators that he used deadly force during the chaotic encounter because he feared that Blake, while trying to flee the scene, was trying to kidnap a child in the back seat of the vehicle.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice had said that Blake had a knife in his possession and the weapon was found on the floor of his vehicle. Blake himself told authorities that he possessed a knife, according to authorities. However, an attorney for Blake’s family had questioned the notion that Blake posed a threat.
The current review of the incident has now been closed without federal prosecution.
CNN has reached out to Jacob Blake for comment on the matter.