The lead attorney for a Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake in August 2020 confirmed on Tuesday morning that “no money changed hands” before Blake agreed to drop his excessive force lawsuit against Rusten Sheskey.
Attorney Kenneth M. Battle, managing partner of O’Connor & Battle LLP, released a statement on behalf of the firm and co-counsel Michele Braun in response to the Monday news that a federal judge dismissed Blake’s case with prejudice (meaning the case cannot be filed again).
As Law&Crime reported, Blake attorney Patrick Salvi II on Friday signed an agreed upon stipulation to dismiss. U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller followed that up on Monday by dismissing the case as requested—namely, with prejudice and without costs to the parties. There was no mention in the document of any kind of settlement, so Law&Crime reached out to Blake’s lawyers and Battle for some clarification on the resolution of this case.
Battle’s press release Tuesday confirmed that there was no settlement: “To be clear, no money changed hands for this dismissal,” the document said.
The firm described Sheskey as “extremely happy” and “relieved” about the dismissal, and as hopeful for the future.
“I sincerely pray for healing, unity and peace for the city of Kenosha, and its residents, in the immediate future. Let’s begin to rebuild the bonds that have been frayed by such an unfortunate turn of events,” Battle said in a statement, alluding to the unrest, destruction, and deadly violence that rocked Kenosha in the aftermath of the Blake shooting.
Read more about the dismissal here.
Sheskey shot Blake seven times while attempting to take him into custody on a warrant back on Aug. 23, 2020, leaving Blake, now 31, paralyzed from the waist down.
While Blake claimed that he did not threaten responding officers with the knife he had in his possession, Sheskey claimed that he “feared Jacob Blake was going to stab him with the knife” in order to escape police in an SUV with young children inside.
No charges were brought against Sheskey in connection with the shooting, as the district attorney concluded that the Sheskey had a valid self-defense claim.
Battle’s press release mentioned the lack of state or federal criminal charges in the case and called the dismissal of the civil case “consistent” with that outcome:
Following the underlying incident, Officer Sheskey’s actions were investigated by the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). Following a very thorough and extensive examination of evidence, witnesses and records, DCI concluded that Officer Sheskey should not face any criminal charges. After the conclusion of the DCI investigation, the Kenosha Police Department (KPD) launched its own investigation of Officer Sheskey’s actions. KPD analyzed the statements, evidence, reports, and other materials before concluding that Officer Sheskey had not violated any KPD rules or regulations during the encounter in question. Officer Sheskey was also subject to investigation by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ). Following its review of the entirety of the record, evidence, reports, etc., the USDOJ concluded that they are not seeking federal criminal civil rights charges against Officer Sheskey for his actions.
Attorneys for Blake have not responded to Law&Crime’s requests for comment about the dismissal of the case.
Read the press release below:
[Image via CBS 58 screengrab]
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