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Jacob Blake's uncle arrested during protest over officer who returned to work

Justin Blake and two other protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges, authorities said. All three men were released on bond.
Image: Justin Blake
Justin Blake, right, the uncle of Jacob Blake, walks away from a news conference, on Jan. 5, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis.Morry Gash / AP file

Jacob Blake's uncle was one of three people arrested during a Sunday protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where demonstrators demanded the firing of the officer who shot Blake, a Black man who was left paralyzed from the waist down in August.

Police announced earlier this month that Officer Rusten Sheskey returned to work from administrative leave after investigators found that he was acting within policy and would not face any discipline.

The department's decision not to fire him sparked citywide demonstrations — including a sit-in protest on Sunday blocking the entrance to the Kenosha County Public Safety Department, according to the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department.

Justin Blake and two other protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges, the agency said. He was also charged with obstructing an officer during the protest, authorities said.

All three men were released on bond on Monday.

Around 40 people gathered at the protest, several of whom locked arms and blocked the main entrance to the public safety building, Kenosha News reported.

Sheskey, who is white, was not charged in the August shooting of Blake. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley told reporters in January that Sheskey and other officers would have had a strong case for self-defense.

"If you don't believe you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have an ethical obligation not to issue charges," Graveley said at the time.

Jacob Blake filed a federal complaint against Sheskey seeking unspecified damages last month.

Police initially released few details about the shooting, saying officers were responding to a domestic incident. However, bystander video posted online received national attention.

In the video, Blake appeared to be walking away from officers and had opened the front driver's side door when he was shot from behind. Authorities said Sheskey and another officer tried to use their stun guns on Blake but could not stop him.

Blake was near a knife when he was shot, state prosecutors have said, and a blade was found in the footwell of the vehicle. Raysean White, the bystander who recorded the video, said he heard police yelling "drop the knife!" but never saw Blake armed with a blade.

Kenosha police officers were not equipped with body cameras at the time of the shooting.

It was previously believed that Blake had been shot seven times in the back, but further examination of Blake's medical records found that he had three entrance wounds on his left side and four shots to his back, Graveley said in January after it was announced that the officers would not be charged.

He said that while it is "absolutely appropriate" to ask whether seven shots is excessive, Sheskey said he continued to fire until the "threat" stopped as part of his training.

The shooting occurred only a few months after George Floyd died while officers tried to arrest him in Minneapolis last summer. Three officers were charged in connection with Floyd's death, and one was convicted of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, last week.

The shooting of Blake, along with the deaths of Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and initial decisions not to charge people involved in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia, fueled a summer of international protests against systemic racism.