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Wisconsin Dept. Of Justice Identifies Police Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake

The Wisconsin Department of Justice on Wednesday identified the police officer who shot Jacob Blake over the weekend, providing its first update about the incident that has prompted widespread outrage and ongoing protests.

In a statement, the department said Officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven shots into Blake's back, and was the only officer present to fire a weapon. It also said Blake had a knife "in his possession" at the time.

The statement says that police officers were initially dispatched to a residence on Sunday evening after a female caller reported that her boyfriend, who was not supposed to be on the premises, was present.

Witnesses at the scene said previously that Blake was trying to break up a fight between two women.

According to the DOJ, officers attempted to arrest Blake, and tried unsuccessfully to tase him in the process. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver's side door and leaned inside, at which point Sheskey fired seven shots "while holding onto [Blake's] shirt."

Following the shooting, which was captured on video, Blake admitted to investigators that "he had a knife in his possession," according to the statement. Agents found a knife on the driver's side floorboard of Blake's car, and their search of the car yielded no other weapons.

Officials also noted that the Kenosha Police Department, of which Sheskey is a seven-year veteran, does not have body cameras.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said at a press conference that the Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation and will submit its findings to a prosecutor. The DOJ statement said if possible the results of the investigation would be submitted within 30 days.

Kaul said the identities of the other officers who were present will be made public "soon."

"There is an investigative process underway being conducted by an independent agency that is taking this investigation very seriously and that is committed to doing it thoroughly and fully," he said. "And I ask that people allow that process to play out so that there is justice in this case."

The U.S. Department of Justice also confirmed on Wednesday that it has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting. It said the investigation will be conducted by the FBI, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation and other state authorities, and overseen by federal prosecutors.

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Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.