Three days after a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer shot 29-year-old Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, the Wisconsin Department of Justice identified the cop who pulled the trigger as Rusten Sheskey. Sheskey is a seven-year veteran of the police force and is currently on paid administrative leave while the Division of Criminal Investigations, FBI, and local officials investigate the incident.
Currently, no charges have been announced against Sheskey, who was seen on video holding a firearm to Blake and firing round after round into his back in front of his children. But with the release of his name, a picture of the officer — and the story he is telling about the events of Sunday evening — are beginning to emerge. State Attorney General Josh Kaul gave a brief account of how law enforcement were portraying the events that led up to the shooting.
Officers said they responded to a call from a woman who said a boyfriend showed up to her house unexpectedly. When police arrived on the scene, they attempted to tase Blake before Sheskey shot him as he bent over into the driver’s side of his car. Kaul said that Blake had a knife in the car.
It’s unclear whether Blake was the boyfriend referred to in the call for help, but Patrick Salvi Jr., an attorney for Blake’s family, says that Blake did not have a weapon on him and that he had just stopped his car to break up a fight when he was shot by Sheskey.
"In the vehicle he did not have a weapon," Salvi Jr. told CNN. "I can't speak directly to what he owned, but what I can say is his three children were in the car and that was in the front of his mind. That is the most important thing to him in his life: his family and his children."
Now that Sheskey has been named as Blake's shooter, many are wondering if his past is representative of his actions. It turns out, Sheskey comes from a family of police officers. Sheskey’s grandfather, Oreste Maraccini, worked for the Kenosha Police Department for 33 years. Prior to being employed by KPD, Sheskey worked at his alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, as a member of their police department, where he was part of a special detail assigned to investigate anti-Black hate crimes at the university.
In 2019, Sheskey told the Kenosha News that he enjoyed being part of the department’s bike patrol unit because of the community relations aspect of the job. “What I like most [about my job] 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. “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.”
Despite Sheskey's history on the police force investigating anti-Black crimes, the officer is still being held accountable by the public for shooting an unarmed Black man seven times during mass civil unrest over police violence. Blake's family continues to demand justice for him, too.
"They shot my son seven times, seven times. Like he didn't matter. But my son matters," Blake’s father, Jacob Blake, Sr. said on Tuesday. "He's a human being and he matters."