Two of the three officers involved in the Jacob Blake shooting have returned to full duty, according to a Kenosha Police Department news release.
Officers Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek resumed work on January 20 after they were put on administrative leave on August 23, 2020, the release said.
“Officers Arenas and Meronek were not charged with a crime and after review by the Kenosha County District Attorney and an independent investigator, former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, the actions taken by the officers were reasonable and justified,” read the release.
Rusten Sheskey, the officer who shot Blake seven times, is still on administrative leave “pending the findings of a Kenosha Police use of deadly force review board,” the release read.
None of the officers in Blake’s shooting were charged, the Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley announced January 5.
The decision not to charge Sheskey followed by the decision to allow the two other officers return to work has happened amid anger over the repeated deaths of Black people at the hands of police.
DA says Blake was armed with a knife
Sheskey, a White officer, shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times while responding to a domestic incident on August 23, 2020. Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down.
That day Meronek was one of the primary officers who arrived at the scene in a marked Kenosha Police Department SUV, while Arenas served as the backup.
Sheskey told investigators that he used deadly force during the chaotic encounter because he was afraid Blake, while attempting to flee the scene, was trying to kidnap a child in the back seat of the vehicle.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice had said Blake had a knife in his possession and the weapon was found on the floorboard of his vehicle. Blake himself told authorities he possessed a knife, Graveley said.
An attorney for Blake’s family disputed that Blake posed a threat.
“There was no point in the video that is articulable for an officer to say that he was under harm at that particular point. I think that’s completely bogus and I think that is just a rationalization to try to show what is really, essentially, an intentional act,” attorney B’Ivory LaMarr said after Graveley announced his decision.
“It’s not against the law to have a knife, people have knives for a variety of different reasons. Jacob Blake is privy to having a knife.”