by Oleg Burunov
Kenosha police officers’ shooting of unarmed African American man Jacob Blake late last week has reignited race-related demonstrations and nationwide calls for police reform in the United States.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has opened a civil rights probe into Sunday’s shooting of African American man Jacob Blake who currently remains in hospital in serious condition.
The DOJ said in a statement on Wednesday that the investigation will be carried out by the FBI in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).
The probe will also be overseen by prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
In the statement, the DOJ also referred to the growing unrest in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin after Blake’s shooting, pointing out that “federal law enforcement is joined with state and local authorities to address further violence in Kenosha and beyond”.
The remarks came as the DCI identified the police officer who shot 29-year-old Blake as Rusten Sheskey. The latter has been an officer with the Kenosha Police Department for seven years and was placed on administrative leave in the wake of the incident.
“Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon. The Kenosha Police Department does not have body cameras, therefore the officers were not wearing body cameras”, the DCI said in a press release on Wednesday.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, for his part, told reporters that the other officers involved in the shooting will be identified “soon”.
Following the incident, protests erupted in Kenosha and several other cities across the US, with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declaring a state of emergency on Tuesday and ordering additional Wisconsin National Guard troops to support local law enforcement.
President Donald Trump, in turn, tweeted that he would be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to the city in order “to restore law and order”.
On 23 August, Blake was shot by a Kenosha police officer at least eight times in front of three of the man’s children after police arrived at the scene in which he was trying to break up a fight between two women.
The incident followed months-long protests in the US that erupted in May, when African American man George Floyd died after police in the city of Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly 8 minutes. Some of the protests turned into violent riots, with looting and clashes with law enforcement.