Wisconsin AG says Jacob Blake was near knife, single officer shot him in the back 7 times

The sole officer who opened fire was identified by the attorney general as Rusten Sheskey, a 7-year-veteran of the Kenosha Police Department.
/ Source: NBC News

The Wisconsin attorney general says Jacob Blake — the Black man shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday — was near a knife when the shooting took place, but would not say if Blake was carrying the knife when he was shot.

The sole Kenosha Police Department officer who opened fire, identified as 7-year-veteran Rusten Sheskey, held the shirt of Blake, 29, and opened fire as he tried to get in a vehicle, Wisconsin AG Josh Kaul said at a press conference Wednesday. "Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back," he said.

Officers were trying to arrest Blake and had deployed a Taser unsuccessfully when he opened the driver's side door of a vehicle and "leaned forward," the attorney general said.

Investigators found the knife in the footwell of the vehicle and Blake himself confirmed to investigators he was in possession of a knife, Kaul said.

Sheskey and other officers involved in the incident are on administrative leave as the investigation by local, state and federal officials — including the FBI — is ongoing, Kaul said.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said he has asked the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate as well.

Blake was "helping to de-escalate a domestic incident" when he was confronted by officers, a lawyer for his family, Benjamin Crump, said Tuesday.

Kaul said police had responded to an incident in which a man was at the residence of a woman and was not supposed to be there. He did not say if that man was Blake.

Blake is in a hospital in Milwaukee paralyzed from the waist down, family co-counsel Patrick Salvi said Tuesday.

Kenosha police haven't given their side of the story about exactly what led up to the shooting, only that they were responding to a domestic incident about 5:11 p.m. Sunday.

A man who captured the shooting on video, 22-year-old Raysean White, 22, said he heard police tell Blake to "drop the knife." White said he did not see Blake with a knife, and it is not clear whether he was carrying one. Kaul did not say Wednesday if Blake was actually carrying a knife.

The attack, captured on video, sparked protests this week in Kenosha and beyond, including in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and San Diego.

During a third night of demonstrations in Kenosha on Tuesday, two people were fatally shot and a third was injured by a 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, authorities alleged. He was in custody just across the border in Illinois and was facing allegations of murder in Wisconsin.

Blake's father, also named Jacob Blake, expressed doubt on Tuesday that a fair probe into his son's shooting was possible.

“I don’t have the confidence in anybody that is white that is doing an investigation about a Black young man that was shot seven times in his back," he said.

A version of this story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.