No charges for officers in Jacob Blake shooting

Prosecutors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday decided not to file criminal charges against a police officer in the shooting of Jacob Blake last August.

The shooting of Blake, who was unarmed, prompted NBA players to protest the shooting by not playing games on Aug. 26-28. More than 100 NBA employees walked out in solidarity with the players on Aug. 28. The WNBA postponed six games on Aug. 26 and 27. There were also 14 Major League Baseball games that were postponed when players refused to take the field, including a Aug. 26 game involving the Milwaukee Brewers.

Blake, who is Black, was shot seven times by white Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey on Aug. 23. Blake was left paralyzed. The shooting, which was captured on video, prompted large protests in Kenosha, with more than 250 arrested during several days of unrest.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley on Tuesday said he “would have to disprove the clear expression of these officers that they had to fire a weapon to defend themselves.”

Added Graveley, who said he had informed Blake of the decision not to file charges: “I do not believe the state … would be able to prove that the privilege of self-defense is not available.”

In response to the shooting, NBA players — sequestered in the bubble in Orlando because of COVID-19 — discussed a protest. LeBron James said on Aug. 24: “Why does it always have to get to the point where we see the guns firing?” A night later, Doc Rivers, then coach of the LA Clippers, said: “We keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”

On Aug. 26, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for a game against Orlando. The NBA postponed three games that night, and didn’t play again for three days while players discussed a response.

Bucks players Sterling Brown and George Hill read a statement the night of the first postponements, saying in part:

“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.

“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”

NBA teams returned to play on Aug. 29, with the Bucks closing out the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

“Trying to end racial injustice and end racism and make this world a better place is still more important than anything we did today,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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