The Kenosha, Wisconsin, cop who shot at Jacob Blake seven times last August, paralyzing the Black man from the waist down, is back on the job after it was apparently determined he didn’t do anything wrong— “the only lawful and appropriate decision,” according to his boss.
“He acted within the law and was consistent with training,” Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said of Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, in a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday.
The decision to let Sheskey return to work without any disciplinary action has infuriated some, especially amid the rash of police violence that continues to prompt demonstrations in cities like Brooklyn Center, Minnesota; Washington, D.C.; and New York City.
Officers were attempting to arrest Blake for an outstanding warrant last August when a pocketknife fell out of his pants, according to the Associated Press. The 29-year-old picked up the knife and was heading back to an SUV when Sheskey shot him.
Sheskey, who said he feared for his life, was not charged with any wrongdoing over the encounter, which triggered protests across the city after it was captured on bystander video.
Blake has said he was ready to surrender once he put the knife in the vehicle; his young children were inside.
“We are outraged as a family, as a community,” Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, told WDJT, a local CBS affiliate, after it was revealed that Sheskey was off administrative leave.
“You think it’s okay to put a police officer back in harm’s way of our children, of our seniors, it’s unconscionable.”
One of Blake’s attorneys, Patrick Salvi Jr., told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he was also surprised by the decision. Blake sued Sheskey over allegations of excessive force last month.
"How can anyone say this is a desired result for a police encounter?" Salvi said.
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, called the announcement “a failure of our justice system.”
“This officer should not have a job, he should be facing a trial,” Pocan said in a Twitter post. “The Blake family deserves better than this, they deserve justice.”
It’s unclear what exactly Sheskey’s duties will entail now that he’s back to work. The Kenosha Police Department did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Miskinis said in a statement about Sheskey’s return to the force that the shooting was reviewed internally, in addition to reviews from an outside agency, an “independent expert,” and the Kenosha County District Attorney.
“Although this incident has been reviewed on multiple levels, I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome,” Miskinis said. “However, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made.”