Jan 5, 2021

Kenosha DA Press Conference Transcript: No Officers Charged Over Jacob Blake Shooting

Kenosha DA Press Conference Transcript: No Officers Charged in Jacob Blake Shooting
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsKenosha DA Press Conference Transcript: No Officers Charged Over Jacob Blake Shooting

DA officials of Kenosha, Wisconsin held a press conference on January 5 where they announced that no police officers will be charged for the shooting of Jacob Blake. Read the full transcript of the briefing here.

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Speaker 1: (00:57)
Make it fast. Yes, yes.

Mike Gravely: (01:34)
Welcome everybody. Today, we’re going to… I’m Mike Gravely, I’m from the Kenosha District Attorney’s office. I’m the elected district attorney here in Kenosha County. Today, we’re going to talk in great detail about the events that happened here in Kenosha on August 23rd, 2020. It’s very important to me that I insist that this conversation be a complicated conversation, that it be a real conversation, not a simplistic one, and that we talk accurately and thoroughly about the law and the facts of this case. I want to thank Noble Ray, who is the neutral, independent use of force expert in this case, found for this case by the Attorney General of the state of Wisconsin. I want to thank him for the report that he prepared in this case and the conclusions regarding use of force and police training that he has offered us, and also because he is present today and he will have a chance to present those findings to all of you and then to be part of answering questions.

Mike Gravely: (02:42)
I expect us to conclude at five today. And again, I expect my presentation and Chief Ray’s to be lengthy, so I apologize in advance if there’s not a lot of opportunity for question. But I do feel that the occasion and the tragedy that happened on August 23rd is deserving of a lengthy discussion by both the prosecutor, myself, and by Noble Ray here today. Again, I want to speak to the tragedy of what happened. This was a tragedy, first and foremost, for Jacob Blake, who still suffers from grievous injuries. These are life lasting injuries that he suffers from today. I had an opportunity to tell him what I was going to announce to all of you today in a phone call just a few minutes ago. And his update is that he is still on a daily basis suffering the injuries that he first suffered, of course, on August 23rd.

Mike Gravely: (03:40)
This is a tragedy for those who love Jacob Blake. He is a father, a son, and a nephew. And I want to acknowledge and say that I really feel like the Blake family and Mr. Blake himself have tried to be real truly positive forces in the community, asking the community to have peaceful, but real, dialogue about change that I think is necessary in this community, outlined by the issues exposed in this case. And so I thank them for their positive contributions. And certainly, there is a tragedy here for them as well. I have thought several times and had a quick conversation with Mr. Blake today about his children who were in that vehicle. And I have thought, as I considered the evidence many times in these last few months, what the impact of his children, that seeing those gunshots would be in their futures.

Mike Gravely: (04:42)
And so I was able to briefly speak to him about that today as well. Clearly, this has been a tragedy for this community. We have seen, based on the results of what happened in the aftermath, that there are persons in this community or outside the community, people who come here, whatever guys that is, that are capable of expressing their anger in these moments, by burning things down. The challenge now, and part of what I hope to begin in my conversation today, is rather than burning things down, can moments of tragedy like this be an opportunity to build things. Are there times and circumstances that are tragic where communities in their healing process can begin to make themselves a better community that allows for all points of views and allows for all the parties, even those who feel so disenfranchised, to have a voice.

Mike Gravely: (05:45)
And then I don’t want to leave out the officers who’s entire careers, in fact their whole lives, have been judged by few seconds, that they conducted themselves on these shifts. And to their families, because there’s a tragedy there. They’ve clearly been impacted in the several months that this decision has been awaited. I want to speak briefly in apology to all the people in the Kenosha community who have suffered in any way from the fact that this date and time of this decision was kept a secret, although possibly the worst kept secret in the history of secrets.

Mike Gravely: (06:25)
But certainly, there are many people in this community who felt like their own sense of security or their economic security, their businesses, were impacted by the fact that no one set a particular date a month in advance, et cetera, to announce this decision. And that was done deliberately because of security concerns. So the advice we were given is that we could not do that. And so again, I apologize to persons out there hearing this today who are justifiably angered, that they were inconvenienced in those major ways because they were not able to be given advanced notice.

Mike Gravely: (07:05)
Today, there a very narrow decision that must be made. And so I will be announcing today the question of whether the district attorney’s office and its professional judgment feels that there is sufficient admissible evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that officer Sheskey or any of the other Kenosha officers shot Jacob Blake unlawfully or committed any other offense. That’s the task. It’s a narrow task today. It’s a legal and professional task. But I want to say that I feel, in many ways, completely inadequate for this moment. I have never in my life had a moment where I had to contend with explicit or implicit bias based on my race. I have never had a moment in my whole life where I had to fear for my safety with either police officers or individuals in authority. And yet I have had conversations with people that I trust and admire who tell me they do have that life experience. So that is an authentic experience I do not have, and I do not bring to this decision today.

Mike Gravely: (08:26)
Conversely, I have never been an individual who has left my family and gone to a shift at work knowing I could face armed persons who might try to end my life, and further knowing that in the course of my job, in facing those armed people who might try to end my life, I might not have the option to run away or to hide, as any private citizen rationally would. And I know that to be an authentic experience, and that is not an authentic experience I bring to this decision today, either. What I do bring to this decision is almost three decades as a prosecutor making charging decisions, which is what I’m being asked to do today. I have, my entire professional life, tried to keep this community safe. Tens of thousands of times, I have looked at sets of facts and had to make a decision, whether there were sufficient facts that fit the law that would allow the prosecutors, including myself, to be able to prove a case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mike Gravely: (09:46)
I have personally taken more than 250 cases to jury trial. So I think I can confidently say where I do have authentic experience and expertise is in an ability to talk to a community and to all of you about what evidence would be admissible in a jury trial if anyone was charged, and whether that evidence would be sufficient to get a conviction. I also have a complete, an absolute commitment, that charging decision must be made independent of outside forces or the political winds that swirl about in this year and this era that we’re in. It’s an absolute commitment I have. And I hope that in these troubled times that our community, and maybe America, has perhaps rarely been in greater need of a neutral professional person to referee these disputes in the criminal justice system. And so I provide that professional judgment, and I bring that to the evidence today.

Mike Gravely: (10:57)
So the first thing I want to do is talk about a statute in Wisconsin designed specifically for the investigative and charging process for fatal police shootings. Thankfully, Jacob Blake is alive. He is grievously injured, but he is not deceased. But this statute is still an excellent guide to allow us our best chance at an independent investigative, excuse me, and charging decision. So what is the statute, if it’s our guidepost, where does it take us? The statute first requires an investigation by an independent agency. In this case, the Department of Justice, the Division of Criminal Investigations, I’m going to call them DCI, got to the scene as soon as they could, they secured the scene and they immediately began to be the investigative agency. Ultimately, that responsibility was shared with the FBI in some small amount when they needed additional persons. The statute requires that when that investigation is completed in as timely expeditious manner as possible, it goes to the district attorney and the County where the shooting occurred. And of course, that is, in this case, Kenosha.

Mike Gravely: (12:11)
And in this situation, an exhaustive investigation was done. There’s more than 40 hours of squad video. There’s hundreds of pages of electronic information. There are almost 200 separate law enforcement reports, and almost 1500 individual pages of police reports. So this was clearly a dramatically exhaustive investigation. And was it expeditious? They got it to Noble Ray, the independent use of force expert on this case, by, I believe, October 8th, 2020, and ultimately, to the District Attorney’s office as well. Then the statute requires that the district attorney, the elected district attorney in that County, must determine if there’s a basis just to prosecute any of the involved law enforcement. And it is my decision now that I announced today before you that no Kenosha law enforcement officer in this case will be charged with any criminal offense, based on the facts and the laws as I will describe them to you now.

Mike Gravely: (13:16)
So it is our decision that no charge will be filed. I’m going to also tell you, just because I think it is important, that no charge will be filed against Jacob Blake, in regards to this incident as well, that for many of the same reasons, in terms of an overall discussion about this case, that is not something that is something that the district attorney’s office intends to pursue. Now, if the district attorney’s office does not file charges, if that does not happen, then immediate transparency has to take place. And so what has to happen is, first, the DCI website will, by five o’clock today, have available their complete investigative file. And second, the district attorney’s office, which is not only going to put this PowerPoint, which is an abbreviated version of our report, will be publicly available, but we have a more lengthy written report that will also be available to the public.

Mike Gravely: (14:18)
Both of those things will be available on a website that’ll be identified in a final slide here, and they’ll both be available at five o’clock today. In addition, Noble Ray, the independent use of force expert, has drafted a report with all of his findings that also will be available at that time. So now, I intend to talk about what steps were taken specifically by the DA’s office to prepare for this investigation, and then finally, what our conclusions are about the law and the evidence in this case. As soon as I saw the video and shared the same emotional reactions that I think so many people in the public did at my first viewing of the circumstances of the video that certainly went viral immediately, I knew at that time that we needed to do the most independent charging decision and investigate a process that could possibly be done.

Mike Gravely: (15:18)
And at the very first moment I learned that, I called on the US attorney’s office to do a parallel civil rights investigation that would be a separate investigation and conclusion and findings from our own. Now, the US attorney’s office has civil rights specialists who prosecute and make charging decisions about officers and any misconduct. So they have specialists who do that. They work out of their Washington DC office. They did agree that they would do an investigation. I know that is going on. And I invite you to contact that office to find out what their status is. I know they are attempting to get to a point where they’re able to make charging decisions as well. Kenosha deserves a second legal opinion other than my own. I’m confident about the things I’m talking about today, but I believe that the healing process begins or is improved by an opportunity for members of the public to see other prosecuting agencies make decisions, even though their laws are somewhat and slightly different.

Mike Gravely: (16:24)
The other thing I did, and I think this is an unprecedented thing in the state of Wisconsin. I don’t think this has ever been done before. I asked the Wisconsin attorney general to select, for this particular case, a use of force expert who I had nothing to do with hiring. So I asked them to find someone so that there would be a truly and completely independent expert on issues of police training, and on issues of whether the use of force in this case was reasonable. And the way I did that was I asked them to select the person without me having any input. And what the Attorney General did was he asked Noble Ray who’s with me today who accepted. And I knew Noble Ray’s name. I knew him as a national and state spokesperson for police reform and talking about bias in policing, and a person who had spent after a long career at the Madison police department, his second career was trying to be a voice on those issues on a national level.

Mike Gravely: (17:32)
When I first had my contact with Noble Ray, had never spoken to him in my life, had never met him in person in my life until after the selection was made, my first conversation with him was about how I wanted in no way to influence the decision came to about the matters that mattered in this case. And I told him, “No matter what you conclude, we’re going to publish that. That will be an independently formed opinion. I won’t have any influence, and you will be allowed to put anything you want in there. And I will invite you to offer any opinions you feel are appropriate.” And you’ll hear those shared by Noble Ray today. And you’ll know that as you hear those, that those are facts and findings from an expert who the District Attorney, in this case, myself, did not influence.

Mike Gravely: (18:26)
I also took pains to stay out of any contacts with any family members, any civil attorneys, any of the people who someone might think might have an ability to influence this decision. I purposely avoided those individuals. My first conversation with Jacob Blake was today, just minutes before this press conference. And I have still not spoken to any of the officers impacted in this case.

Mike Gravely: (18:51)
Okay. So that is the legal status of the investigation. I now want to talk specifically about the law of self- defense. I do that because my laser focus throughout this presentation is going to be, if one was to charge any officer in this case, what would be the laws that govern that case? What would a jury trial look like? Because if you do not have a case, you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, as you’re going to hear me talk about, then you’re ethically obligated not to charge such a case.

Mike Gravely: (19:24)
And my belief is that this is not a case where there would be any dispute about any of the factual circumstances of this case, except for one piece of the law. And that is self-defense. Remember, these are police officers who are uniformed officers. They’re called to the scene on a designated domestic abuse call. When they get there, they know there is an arrest warrant for Jacob Blake, and they take actions at that time. And the question, really, the only issue in this case, would be do they have a right to the privilege of self-defense? So this law, I would summarize as follows.

Mike Gravely: (20:04)
The question to a jury would be, did Officer Sheskey reasonably believe that the shooting at Jacob Blake was necessary to prevent being stabbed by him, or necessary to prevent someone else from being an imminent danger of death or great bodily harm? Okay, that’s the simple way of talking about it. What is reasonable belief? Okay. Is it what you and I would think at our computer screen or in our living room? Well, the statute says reasonable belief is actually from the standpoint of Officer Sheskey at the time of the shooting. So the jury is instructed that the belief idea is from the shoes of Officer Sheskey when he makes his decision to fire the firearm.

Mike Gravely: (20:56)
When we talk about police officers, courts have had to weigh in on this idea before. The US Supreme court, in the case I’m citing here, in 1989, has talked about the very specific circumstances for officers, that they’re intense uncertain situations, and that a jury would essentially be instructed that they cannot use 20/20 hindsight, that they have to be talking about what the decision would reasonably be from an officer in the shoes of Officer Sheskey with the information and training available at that moment. I think it is quite common for persons to have mistakes in their belief about the burden of proof for self-defense I’ve heard a number of people talk to me about this case, and they say, “Well, let the officers claim self-defense, they’d have to prove that.” And the reality is that’s just not the case.

Mike Gravely: (21:53)
In Wisconsin, and I believe this is law throughout the country, but certainly in Wisconsin, when there is enough information to raise self-defense, the burden of proof is on the state. It’s on the prosecutor to disprove self-defense. So we would have to disprove the clear expression of these officers, that they had to fire a weapon to defend themselves. You have to disprove that negative. The burden of proof is on the state, in that situation. So I’ve told you that I do not believe the state, and we’re going to go into some of the facts in detail in a minute, would be able to prove that the privilege of self-defense is not available, is not a defense in this case. And if that’s true, then ethical considerations must determine what our next course is. So I want to talk briefly about the rest of what I have heard from the public, in the sense of those individuals who have demanded or called for charges in this case.

Mike Gravely: (22:55)
There’s been a group of people who have said, “You need to charge these officers because it will send a clear message to all officers everywhere about how they need to police in future.” I call that the send a message charging decision. There’s been a number of well-meaning voices who have said, “You must charge this case to advance the causes of racial equity and to strike a blow forward in the idea that the criminal justice system is racist and expose them.” And I call that the charge the case to advance a righteous cause. And then there’s been the deeply human element where people have said to me, “Jacob Blake is a human being. His family has really suffered. And so you should charge this case so that he can heal through a jury trial, and so that his family will be there to heal through that process as well.” I just need to be clear. All three of those bases are not ethically appropriate or possible bases to charge a criminal case in Wisconsin. If you do not believe you can defeat the privilege of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. There’s a case Thompson V. State. State Supreme court almost 50 years ago, told us as prosecutors it’s an abusive discretion to charge if the evidence is clearly insisted sufficient to support a conviction, meaning you have to have a confidence you can prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt. Okay, so why have I taken so much of your time and complicated this conversation with all of this stuff about what the law is and what the ethics are? Okay. Why is that? Most of you are here to hear the facts. What are the blockbuster new facts that I have to talk about? Well, I’ve done that because I, again, want to emphasize to you that this case has to be laser-focused on what a jury trial would look like.

Mike Gravely: (25:04)
Everybody has seen the video. And so, from their perspective, they have tried this case at their computer screen or in their living room. As a professional, I am called upon to talk about how to try this case in a real jury room, in a real courtroom. What is the admissible evidence? What would be the actual evidence? How would that evidence play out? And would that evidence add up to a defeat of the privilege of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt? And so that’s going to be the rest of the focus here. What it means is that this case is really all about self-defense, and it’d be proven that it does not exist? It is really evidence about the perspective of Officer Sheskey. What is his knowledge at each moment? And what does a reasonable officer do at each decision point?

Mike Gravely: (25:58)
Those would be the things that would be primary. And almost none of those things are answered by the deeply disturbing video that we have all seen. Almost none of those things are answered. I divide the witnesses in this case into three categories. Certainly, the cops would all will be witnesses. All three of these officers. General disagreement by the officers who were right there that this was a self-defense situation. They described the same motion that I’m going to go to in detail, where Officer Sheskey felt he was about to be stabbed. So it’s crucial what they knew at every stage, how those officers perceived it, and then also crucial is, is there any other evidence that disproves, that shows that officers are lying, about the things they offered to investigators? And by the way, the officers were completely cooperative in this investigation.

Mike Gravely: (26:51)
Jacob Blake would certainly be another witness in this case. He also was completely cooperative in this investigation. And he, if you prosecuted this case, would be the key witness. He would be the star witness of any prosecution case, if you even contemplate having a jury trial where you charge and convict Officer Sheskey or any other officer. So, focusing on Jacob Blake as the star witness, where are the areas where he and the officers agree? Where do he and those officers disagree? And if he disagrees with the officers, is Jacob Blake a credible witness in those areas? And that we’re going to talk about in a second. And then finally, the other civilians, and I kind of put all of us in that same category because we are sort of eye witnesses as well, because we’ve seen a video where we also have seen a snap, a few seconds, of what occurred in this case.

Mike Gravely: (27:52)
I believe that those civilians who were on the scene would also testify. They would be part of a trial, of course. But again, they do not testify to things that are really in dispute. And so I believe those civilians would be more defined by what they don’t know, by the things they are not aware of, than the things they do know, and that when a jury considered this case, their importance would diminish because of the requirements of the statutes. Here are the four things I want you to consider as I talk about the evidence. Number one, is this a domestic abuse case? Okay. If it is a domestic abuse case, are there certain considerations and priorities that officers need to incorporate in what they do? Number two, was Jacob Blake armed? And if he was armed, what does that have to say about officer’s decisions for self-defense? Number three, what does any physical evidence tell us? For instance, can we talk a little bit about entrance wounds into the body of Jacob Blake today, and whether those-

Mike Gravely: (29:03)
… entrance wounds into the body of Jacob Blake today, and whether those have significance in supporting or in some way disproving any story that officers would have about being on the verge of being stabbed at the point that shots are fired. What about the taser evidence? Is there evidence of tasing that occurred in this case? And then what does our independent use of force expert conclude is reasonable? What does he say that a reasonable officer would do at each decision point? And I’m going to submit to you right now, when a jury heard and thought about this case, when they hear an independently appointed use of force expert, with the long credibility and expertise of this expert that you have before you today, when they hear that he would be testifying that each decision by the officers in this case are reasonable by police officers, are appropriate and reasonable uses of force, that that would be decisive to a jury in determining whether the privilege of self-defense could ever be defeated beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mike Gravely: (30:12)
Okay. So with that, I want to go through the evidence in some detail. First of all, what is the evidence about why police went to the scene? Well, we know on August 23rd, they were called by Laquisha Booker. Laquisha Booker called the police, she reported that Jacob Blake would not give her back the keys to her rental vehicle, and she was afraid he was going to take that vehicle and crash it. She reported he had done that before. So now police know there’s a vehicle in dispute, Jacob Blake already has the keys, and the concern is will he crash that vehicle in an effort to leave? And so we’re going to play that 911 call now, so you will hear that, the call that she reported.

Speaker 2: (30:53)
August 23, 2020, 17:10:35.

Laquisha Booker: (30:53)
That’s fine, I’m willing to take that risk.

Adrianne Broaddus: (30:54)
What is your emergency?

Laquisha Booker: (31:07)
Yes, I need an officer to 2805, 40th Street, unit D.

Adrianne Broaddus: (31:13)
2805, four zero Street, letter D as in David?

Laquisha Booker: (31:16)
Yes, letter D as in David. Jacob Blake is here and he has the keys to a rental that I purchased, that I need to take back, and he’s not trying to release it, and on top of that, he’s not supposed to be here. Today is his son’s birthday, so I allowed him to spend a couple hours with him, but he’s not giving me the keys to this rental, and that’s all I’m asking for. I never would’ve called you guys. I promise you, I tried to keep from calling you guys. He’s crashed numerous of my vehicles in the past, and I literally just bought one yesterday. And so just because he heard some false information, he’s not willing to give me the keys to this car that doesn’t even belong to me. Me and my sisters just saw him [inaudible 00:31:57] off in it and turn around and come back. So I need you guys to come, and I need these keys.

Adrianne Broaddus: (31:57)
Okay, what’s your name?

Laquisha Booker: (32:03)
My name is Laquisha Booker. Go ahead and tell the girls that, go ahead and tell them that. [inaudible 00:32:14] the police are on their way here. Yes it is. Do not put [inaudible 00:32:14] go back to playing your games. You didn’t even want to go outside.

Adrianne Broaddus: (32:15)
Is Jacob there right now?

Laquisha Booker: (32:17)
Yes and he’s trying to kiss his kids so he can hurry up and leave. He was here just talking all types of crazy and now he’s walking off, now he’s getting ready to leave. Let me get the license plate.

Adrianne Broaddus: (32:30)
And he’s White, Black, Hispanic?

Laquisha Booker: (32:37)
Hold on, let me get the license plate number. He’s kissing the rest of his kids. It’s I-V-J-9-3-5.

Adrianne Broaddus: (32:50)
I as in Ida, Z as in zebra, J as in John?

Laquisha Booker: (32:54)
I-V-J-9-3-5. Good luck.

Adrianne Broaddus: (32:58)
V as in Victor?

Laquisha Booker: (32:59)
Yeah, V as in Victor.

Adrianne Broaddus: (33:00)

Laquisha Booker: (33:01)
And he’s probably about to go crash it, he’s pulling off right now. I-V-J-9-3-5.

Adrianne Broaddus: (33:06)
What state is it out of?

Laquisha Booker: (33:07)
Shut the fuck up bitch.

Mike Gravely: (33:17)
So that was the information provided to 911. The key question then, as I said, the focus is what do officers know at every moment they make any substantive decisions in this case? Based on that 911 call, officers Sheskey, Meronek, and Arenas are dispatched to the scene for a family trouble call, that’s a code for domestic abuse, involving a domestic dispute over car keys. Dispatch also told the responding officers, Blake has a felony arrest warrant for domestic violence offenses, and sexual assault. And so you’ll hear that dispatch recording, you’ll know exactly what the officers were told as they were headed towards the scene.

Speaker 2: (33:59)
August 23, 2020, 17:11:27.

Adrianne Broaddus: (33:59)
[inaudible 00:33:59] family trouble.

Speaker 3: (33:59)
[inaudible 00:34:21].

Adrianne Broaddus: (34:23)
2805, 40th Street. 2-8-0-5, four zero Street. Complainant say Jacob Blake isn’t supposed to be there and he took the complainants keys and is refusing to give them back.

Speaker 3: (34:30)
[inaudible 00:34:36].

Adrianne Broaddus: (34:30)
[inaudible 00:34:43].

Speaker 3: (34:30)
[inaudible 00:34:51].

Mike Gravely: (34:57)
This is what comes up on the squad computer. So what you’re seeing now is a picture of what officers Sheskey, who’s in the passenger seat, officer Meronek is really a brand new officer, she’s driving. Sheskey’s able to operate the squad computer as they proceed. This is what is on there, including that warrant information. As you heard, they heard that that warrant is linked to the same address. Again, another sign to officers who do not have complete information available, that this is the place where the sexual assault and domestic abuse occurred, that Jacob Blake has a warrant for. That’s the warrant, it’s a felony warrant for his arrest.

Mike Gravely: (35:42)
So that’s the evidence that they have as they proceed in the squad car. And you’ll hear in a moment that officer Sheskey operates the squad computer and gets a little more information about the warrant as they are driving to the scene. What other information do officers collect before any force or any action is done by officers in this case? So they arrive at the scene, officers Meronek, Sheskey, and Arenas, all gather and head towards where Laquisha Booker and Jacob Blake are located at this apartment building. And officer Sheskey sees Blake putting a child in the disputed vehicle. So now officer Sheskey has the added information that this vehicle that he believes Jacob Blake has keys for, that he knows is in dispute, now has a kid that’s been included in the mix in that vehicle.

Mike Gravely: (36:44)
Officer Sheskey hears Laquisha Booker yell, “It’s him, it’s him. He has my keys. It’s my car. It’s registered to me.” And Sheskey indicates one of the few conversations he has with Jacob Blake, one of the very few words that are exchanged between them, is Blake declaring his intention, “I’m taking the kid and I’m taking the car.” Officer Meronek hears something similar from Laquisha Booker. And for anyone who would doubt that the officers are truthful about any of their reporting, certainly there is a civilian witness who also says she hears Laquisha Booker yell to the police, “Here he is. Here he is. He’s trying to take my kids and take my car.”

Mike Gravely: (37:26)
So I’m going to suggest to you that the information you’ve heard so far is clearly, to any officer who hears it, a domestic abuse scenario that is there for them to reference and think about in terms of the considerations they must now make. And this slide really encapsulates all the reasons that I think this is a domestic abuse case, and clearly that’s how it would be presented to a jury in thinking about what police officers are thinking about this case at the time. Now, I don’t know if that’s been out in the public, I don’t know if any public take on the Jacob Blake shooting has been, “Oh, well, wait a second. Let’s consider how officers have to think about domestic abuse.”

Mike Gravely: (38:11)
And so there may be persons out there in the public who would be deeply skeptical of that. They would say, “You know what, what this sounds like so far is a guy who’s trying to go somewhere with his kids and there’s some argument over keys. That doesn’t sound like domestic abuse to me. You haven’t said anything about violence, for instance.” And only for that reason, do I believe this slide that’s coming now, about prior contacts between Jacob Blake and Laquisha Booker on the issue of domestic abuse. It is only relevant for that purpose I just described. For anyone out there who says, “You haven’t in any way shown me that there’s anything real about domestic abuse here.” For those persons, I suggest to you that a pattern is very clear.

Mike Gravely: (38:56)
Now let me be fair, let me be absolutely fair here, no officer involved in this call knew about these contacts. So this is not something that would come up in a trial, this is not something that anyone out there in the public could consider to just say, “Well, that means what he’s saying is Jacob Blake’s a bad guy, therefore, this is a different case.” All I’m suggesting to you is that because many of the pieces of controlling behavior in these cases, are about Jacob Blake seizing the keys or the car of Laquisha Booker. And that there are instances of violence in some of these other cases. And that this is a pattern of behavior that the police have been involved in many times. That this really is an actual domestic abuse scenario played out one more time unfortunately, on August 23rd.

Mike Gravely: (39:48)
Controlling behavior is Jacob Blake evidently hearing news he doesn’t want to hear, and so deciding, “Now I’m going to take the kids. Now I’m going to take the car.” And Laquisha Booker, powerless in that situation, going to the only place she believes that she will be able to get support, and that is law enforcement to try to stop that stuff from happening. Okay. So that’s what these contacts are about. One of these contacts, the one that’s the last one on the list, dated May 3rd, is the warrant case, is the case that is the warrant for his arrest. In that case, Laquisha Booker, a distraught Laquisha Booker, reports to police that Jacob Blake invaded her home, sexually assaulted her in a place he wasn’t supposed to be, domestic violence type scenario, and took her car in that incident. That is the felony sexual assault, domestic violence case that he had a warrant out for on August 23rd. Again, it involves her car and that kind of controlling behavior. Just to further talk about domestic violence in case you say, “Well, you know what, those all look like old offenses. How do I know that this recent stuff is domestic violence?” Well, this is a text from Jacob Blake to Laquisha, regarding that May 3rd incident, where he’s texting her. Same pattern we see so often in the Kenosha District Attorney’s office, in domestic abuse charges, “Tell him you don’t remember what you said and that you’d like to drop charges.” So it’s the same domestic abuse patterns that are so concerning, that are so difficult in terms of safety of the individuals who are suffering as victims, being played out in this case.

Mike Gravely: (41:43)
All right, why have I spent all this time on this? Okay, so domestic abuse is a part of this, what possible reason would there be to spend this many minutes on it? And it’s really because I want to be clear that these are common calls for officers and there are factors and things they have to consider, that we as civilians probably don’t consider every day, and that officers maybe don’t even consider on other types of calls. And so it’s about the fact that there’s unpredictable anger that happens even in front of officers, in circumstances that don’t necessarily happen in non domestic calls. And that controlling behavior, things like making sure that I’m going to take your keys, I’m going to take your kids, that those things might be things that have to be looked out for. And then again, and again, the fact that children can be pawns in the middle of these situations, that people who in no way want to harm their own children, can sometimes endanger their children, acting out the domestic abuse scenarios.

Mike Gravely: (42:46)
Police are aware of all of those things, and those are all things that have to be priorities in their consideration of these type of calls. All right, I mentioned to you that officer Sheskey could see there was a warrant. That’s the other large factor in this case. Here’s a copy of the warrant that he would have been able … that that is the cover sheet of that warrant. And I brought the policy of the Kenosha Police Department, because it’s so important that you understand. And I think that it’s possible that Noble Wray will speak to this, officer’s Sheskey and these officers do not have discretion on something like a felony assaultive warrant like this. When they come across Jacob Blake, they must attempt to arrest him, they don’t have other options. They can’t say, “That guy seems like he’s going to fight with me. I’m not going to arrest him.” There is not discretion in this regard.

Mike Gravely: (43:38)
All right, so sure enough, there is resisting behavior. All right, that is clearly a large portion of this case. And I’m not sure any of that is really displayed on the video that we have all seen, in any real way, but there are many commands disobeyed, and that’s not only talked about by all the officers, but that’s admitted by Jacob Blake in his statements, and there are a number of civilians who talk about that as well. And there are multiple ways that officers try to bring Jacob Blake into custody. Again, none of those, I think, visible in any of the videos. They try to direct him to the ground. Multiple officers try to grab his arms and secure him so he can be cuffed. He admits at one point, “Officers were trying to handcuff me, but I was able to get up.”

Mike Gravely: (44:26)
There’s a time where he’s down on the ground, I think we’ll show you a video in a second, that’s enhanced, really close viewing of it, shows Jacob Blake is on top of someone who has to be officer Sheskey, based on everyone else. And officer Sheskey says, “I was on top of him and then he was on top of me as we were grappling, for me trying to get him under arrest.” Most importantly, he was tased twice using remote kind of tasers and once with a direct strike with the taser. So I’m going to suggest to you three attempts were made to tase Jacob Blake, to get him in compliance. There is the refuse of tasers all over the ground at different locations in this case, when the scene is explored by DCI. And both officer Meronek, but most importantly, officer Sheskey, who’s an officer who has been around for a few years, say they have never seen a defendant before who had as little impact by tasers, as Jacob Blake did.

Mike Gravely: (45:30)
And so that was certainly a factor in terms of the use of force options that were exercised in this case. Very important, Jacob Blake, while actively resisting, arms himself with a knife. I continue to hear, I think I heard it at the rally last night, the vigil, where someone again said he was unarmed. It is absolutely incontrovertible that Jacob Blake was armed with a knife during this encounter, incontrovertible. Most incontrovertible because Jacob Blake, in all of the times he spoke to DCI, admits he possessed a knife, even tells us at different times he had the knife in different hands, at different times. So he arms himself with a knife and refuses to drop that knife. And I know that knife is not easily visible in the video, but we’re going to show it to you in a minute.

Mike Gravely: (46:27)
So first, this is the video where you can see at the back of the vehicle, a struggle going on.

Speaker 4: (46:34)
[inaudible 00:46:38]. Mom, get back. Mom. Mom. Mom, you have to get back.

Mike Gravely: (46:52)
So there’s a lot of that video that is on the other side of the vehicle, as many of you saw. And again, that’s an enhanced video, but it’s unsteadily handled, obviously the person, very nervous because of the traumatic events occurring as they videoed. But it does show a moment where Jacob Blake is on top of somebody who has to be officer Sheskey and shows at least a glimpse of the struggle that otherwise is not captured on video. Okay, so here’s the beginning of much of the video that all of you have seen. So this is Jacob Blake, as he begins to circle around the car, officers are now keeping their distance, they’re at gunpoint. And that’s because officers have told us and DCI, that they all, at that point, had seen him with a knife and so they are keeping their distance in accordance with their training. And I believe Noble Wray will talk about that briefly with you as well.

Mike Gravely: (47:48)
So at this point, I don’t think you can see the knife. He walks around the vehicle and you may have seen it there. This is an enhanced video, DCI doing the maximum they can do. There is a glimpse of the knife, the far left is that knife in his hand, Jacob Blake admits that. Jacob Blake admits to DCI that he had a knife in his hand, and that’s what that is. It’s not a cell phone, it’s nothing else, he admits it. The knife itself is pictured there, it’s a razor blade type knife. And then we had a DCI analyst, take the shape of the knife and the size and match it to the picture, to see if in fact, it fit size and shape. And in fact, it is a match. So we say with confidence based on Blake’s admission, based on all the officer’s saying it, and this video evidence, he clearly is armed with a knife as he walks around and approaches the driver’s door. Clearly armed with a knife in that situation. All the discussion that he’s unarmed, contradicts even what he himself has said multiple times to investigators. Officers also yell and citizen witnesses hear this, “Drop the knife.” Under what circumstance would they be so specific unless it was a knife that they saw? I’m going to have you briefly listen to that enhanced audio here.

Speaker 5: (49:16)
Drop the knife. Drop the knife.

Mike Gravely: (49:27)
All of those things lead the investigators, lead myself, lead Noble Wray to say incontrovertible evidence, sorry, that he’s armed with a knife in this situation. So what happens next? So officer Sheskey, again, confronted with the information we know so far, has additional decisions to make at the point we just left that video. Officer Sheskey knows that an armed man, with a felony warrant, who has just forcefully resisted arrest, appears to be about to flee in a vehicle that is a disputed vehicle, and there’s at least one child in the back. Those are all facts that officer Sheskey has in the context of a domestic abuse case, at the point he has to decide what to do next. And at that moment, officer Sheskey decides to re-engage, up till now officers have distanced themself because a knife is possessed by Jacob Blake.

Mike Gravely: (50:31)
So the question is, should an officer re-engage, should he put himself back in harm’s way by going and getting close again to an individual who is armed with a knife? Officer Sheskey decides to do that. He grabs the t-shirt of Jacob Blake. Why does he do that? Well, he tells you, he tells us that he did that because now the approach and entry is into the vehicle. Officer Sheskey says, and I’m quoting or trying my best to quote him, “I don’t know what he’s going to do. Is he going to hurt the child? Is he going to take off in the vehicle? Are we going to be in a vehicle pursuit with a kid in the car? Will he hold the child hostage?” All of these things are things he is considering, they’re running through his mind when he puts himself in harm’s way and grabs the t-shirt of Jacob Blake.

Mike Gravely: (51:26)
At that same time … well, let me just say, first of all, use of force expert, Noble Wray, finds that decision to re-engage based on the factors that Sheskey cited in my quote, use of force expert, Noble Wray has made the finding, that was a reasonable decision to re-engage at that time. Obviously risking at that point, that there’d be further confrontation and the potential for harm. So this is the moment in this picture you’re going to see now, this is the model where officer Sheskey decides, “I’ve got to re-engage.” At this same time, Jacob Blake tells investigators, “I have switched the knife, which was in my left hand, and I have moved it to my right hand.” Because he opens the door with his left hand. So now we know the knife has moved to his right hand, per what he says to DCI, and also the fact that this door is opened with the left hand. This is the moment where officer Sheskey makes a decision, “I can’t let him get in that car without being back in harm’s way.”

Mike Gravely: (52:43)
The next picture is what happens next, and again, you’ve all seen this in the video. Both officer Sheskey and officer Arenas report what happened next was Jacob Blake twisted his body, moving his right hand with the knife towards officer Sheskey. And they demonstrate this. So they say what he does is he takes, again, the knife is now in his right hand and he goes under his left and makes this kind of movement. So he switches his torso back towards officer Sheskey. Both officers say that occurred. So officer Sheskey is the one who’s got the t-shirt, obviously he’s in a perfect position to observe that, officer Arenas is looking through the car window, he’s also in a perfect position to observe that. Both of them say that’s what happened. Unfortunately, when we view the video, officer Arenas and that car door are in our way and don’t allow us to see what happens to the rest of the body of Jacob Blake in this case.

Mike Gravely: (53:56)
So I’d submit to you, here’s where the video fails us, because it doesn’t provide us any information or ability to take a look at whether that twist of the torso occurs. What we do know is that there are two civilian witnesses who also say they see a movement, that I think any defense attorney for these officers, would certainly argue is consistent with what the officers see. Why is this important? Because then this is not just officers saying, “This has occurred.” This is other civilians on the scene, who based on their vantage point, are also able to add this perspective. A witness DC who indicates he has socialized before with Jacob Blake, he is on friendly relations with Jacob Blake, says he saw Jacob Blake trying to get in the car, he saw Jacob Blake ignoring officer’s commands, and ultimately, he saw Jacob Blake, what he says, is twist his torso toward the officer, from right to left, and then he heard the shots.

Mike Gravely: (55:02)
He describes that twisting of the torso motion as sudden and rapid. And he’s down the street, again at a vantage point that is less obscured than our video, in terms of the doorway or the officer. There’s also a witness right across the street, AH, she says she sees Jacob Blake walking very fast around the street side of the car. He opens the car door, the police officer was behind him and the police officer pulled at Jacob Blake’s shirt. She says, “Jacob Blake then turned slightly and the police officer started shooting.” There’s a picture here where we have an arrow to where she’s located. Remember this shooting occurs over on the driver’s side of this vehicle, so I suggest to you, her vantage point is a very good one. And clearly a defense attorney defending officers in this case and talking about the privilege of self-defense, would have these civilian witnesses as key witnesses in their case.

Mike Gravely: (56:02)
Now there are other witnesses in this case, there’s a number of other eye witnesses. And again, I suggest that those witnesses are very similar to us. We saw the videos, we’ve seen snippets of what happened, but there’s also things when we watched the video that we did not know, and I shared that experience with all of you. They were witnesses who are appalled by what they saw, based on what information they had. And of course, they didn’t know what officers knew. So here’s the type of things they didn’t know, those other witnesses. They didn’t know that this was in the context of a domestic dispute and that that might be something officers would have to factor in. They didn’t know there was a felony arrest warrant. They didn’t know that Jacob Blake was armed with a knife, though you now know that, we didn’t know that when watching the video the first time. They didn’t know there was no permission to operate that car. And some of them didn’t know that there was a child in the car.

Mike Gravely: (56:57)
So again, I would suggest to you, many of the witnesses in this case would be very clearly defined by the things they don’t know, and that really matter in terms of the privilege of self-defense. So I showed you what the motion was that the officers described, that move with that right hand in a stabbing motion with the knife. By the way, the picture of the knife that was in the center picture in that slide, was the picture taken from the driver’s side floorboard, and that knife, as you saw, was open at the blade. So that’s an open bladed knife that was found exactly at this scene, on the floorboard of that vehicle. All right, so I’ve described to you that both officers described this motion, from my perspective, another valuable piece of information in terms of whether the defense or privilege of self-defense is available, is that officer Arenas offers to DCI that from his vantage point, that I showed you right at the car window, he also felt that it was-

Mike Gravely: (58:03)
… showed you right at the car window. He also felt that it was necessary to fire to be able to save officer Sheskey from being stabbed. He offers to DCI, didn’t have to do this, but does say, “I would have fired my gun as well had I had a ability and open shot because of exactly what I saw thinking that officer Sheskey was a couple of feet away from being stabbed in that situation.” Now, a couple of things matter to me. Officer Sheskey says we were all aware that Jacob Blake was armed with that knife. We separated away from him. Officer Sheskey says, “I never felt it was appropriate to shoot my firearm just because he displayed that weapon.” Officer Sheskey does not say, “I felt it was appropriate to shoot my firearm because he was about to flee in a vehicle.” He doesn’t say any of those things.

Mike Gravely: (59:01)
He says, “The only time, the first time I felt it was appropriate to fire my firearm is the only time Jacob Blake showed any offensive intent. And that’s when he made that motion where he was bringing his hand over towards me to stab me with the firearm.” Officer Sheskey shoots Jacob Blake seven times, okay? Now this has been thoroughly discussed. That’s a fact that’s certainly known to the media. What the media may not know and again, I’ve heard the narrative many, many times over the last few months where people say, “Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times.” What we did was we went to Brian Peterson, who was the medical examiner in Milwaukee. So DCI went to him, they had him look at the medical reports and the x-rays. Quite appropriately, the ER doctors in this case were not prioritizing where entry wounds or exit wounds were because they were trying to patch up and do the fabulous job of saving Jacob Blake’s life, right?

Mike Gravely: (01:00:05)
So we asked an expert to come in, who usually looks at cases, obviously when people are deceased, right? A medical examiner, and we asked him to weigh in. And the opinion he is offered is that four of the wounds are to Jacob Blake’s back, but three wounds are to Jacob Blake’s left side. Three of the entrance wounds are to Jacob Blake’s left side. Okay, so again, officer Sheskey fired seven times. It is absolutely appropriate for the public and any of us to consider well, is that seven shots excessive? Is that too many shots? And here’s where Nobel Ray again, offers his expertise. He went into some detail in his report and I believe will talk a little bit today about seven shots would happen and why that is within what he would consider a reasonable range of shots. Most importantly, officer Sheskey says, “I continued to fire until Jacob Blake dropped the knife, because I am trained to fire until the threat stops.”

Mike Gravely: (01:01:17)
So here’s what happens according to the officers. What happens is that Jacob Blake makes this motion, okay? He’s fired on, and we know that Jacob Blake ultimately ends up seated in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. We also know that his right hand has the knife and that is dropped on the driver’s side floorboard. So if you think about the defense in this case, if you think about how they will talk about this case, right? Are the physical evidence based on entry wounds consistent with what the officers say? Well, if you go to stab someone, the portion of your body that is exposed is the left side. That’s what is facing an officer, officer Sheskey was firing the shots. We’ll show you a diagram of where those shops are located on the body. This is again, the best estimate. Here is officer Brian Peterson, the doctor offering that opinion. So you can see those primary entrance wounds are right under that armpit, okay? On the side, three of them there.

Mike Gravely: (01:02:23)
So if the natural reaction of anyone being shot at is after that occurs, you’re turning away from the shots, then it would be at least a rational argument by the defense to say that is why there are also shots to the back, right? Because they’ve moved back and we know his body comes back to facing the officer in the back because he becomes seated there. Now, we have no way of determining which of those seven shots come when, so we don’t know the order, right? I’m suggesting to you simply that there is a rational, logical scenario that anyone defending this case along for these officers would be able to use this physical evidence I’m describing to be able to persuasively tell a jury, “This is consistent with what these officers have told you about what occurred.” Okay?

Mike Gravely: (01:03:17)
And you will hear officer Sheskey said, “I stopped firing when there was no longer a threat.” You’ll hear also, that officer Sheskey had 10 more bullets in his gun at the point DCI comes across him. So clearly he has not fired to empty all the chambers of his weapon. He stopped volitionally firing that weapon he indicates why or when he did that. I want to mention one other moment that mattered to me. I don’t know if it will to you, but I just thought it has to do with the tremendous difficulties and challenging modern policing in the era that we’re thinking about today. Officer Sheskey says that after he finished shooting, that Jacob Blake came to a seated situation. He put his weapon away, immediately tried to determine whether any other weapons were a threat and then he pulled out Jacob Blake and immediately began lifesaving measures on him.

Mike Gravely: (01:04:25)
And that’s also reported by the videographer in this case, who says as a civilian witness, those officers took him out immediately and began to help him. And here’s a moment that I thought mattered because it talks about all the things that we are demanding and expect of officers. Because this is seconds after Jacob Blake, according to officer Sheskey is moving a weapon to try to stab him and after officer Sheskey has fired his weapon at Jacob Blake. Sheskey says, “Blake kept saying on the ground, ‘I’m going to die.'” And Sheskey kept saying to him, “You’re going to be okay,” as they waited for the ambulance. Here’s the officer and man who were just in, what? Mortal conflict, right? And now the officer’s role is to be the consoler, to be the person who tries to get him through those grievous injuries. That is the varied, complex conversation that we need to have about law enforcement in America today. Because officer Sheskey seamlessly wore both of those hats at the moment in this incident without delay, without pause, he wore both of the hats that we absolutely would want him to wear in that situation. A protector of a domestic abuse situation, and then ultimately a protector and consoler to Jacob Blake. Okay, I mentioned Jacob Blake would be a star witness. Absolutely necessary witness if anyone was to say that officer Sheskey was going to be charged with criminal behavior. You would absolutely need to put Jacob Blake on the stand, no doubt about it. And so, the question would be, are there a lot of things he agrees with the officers on? And there is, he admits he got into an argument with Laquisha Booker.

Mike Gravely: (01:06:29)
He admits he wouldn’t give back the car keys. He admits he was armed with a knife. He admits he physically struggled with officers. He admits he twice ripped out the taser probes and continued on in not complying with the officers. He admits that he was attempting to get in the driver’s seat of the SUV. All of those things that are completely agreed on. It is the areas officers and Jacob Blake disagree, which would severely compromise any ability to prosecute officer Sheskey. Officer Sheskey says, “This guy had a warrant. All the things he was doing are consistent with arresting in a warrant, resisting a warrant. He doesn’t want to go to jail. And so, I tried to tase him. I did everything I could, I could not get him under control in that situation. Jacob Blake tells DCI, “I didn’t know why these officers were coming across me. I thought these officers were just trying to beat me.

Mike Gravely: (01:07:35)
I thought they were harassing me. I had no idea or reason for these officers to do this. They never told me why they were doing this. And so, I’m just trying to get to a safe place and away from my kids.” So DCI asked Jacob Blake, “Well, did you know there was a warrant for your arrest?” And he said, “I did not. I did not know there was a warrant for my arrest.” Here’s a key point where we can determine credibility. If Jacob Blake is wrong, if he is lying here, he’s not going to be credible in any of the rest of what he talks about in this case. And it goes right to his motive, right? Because if he knows he has a warrant, that explains why he won’t allow officers to take him into custody. Why he won’t do any of the things that we would expect, in front of your kids, maybe you would just comply. But now we would know if in fact he knew we had a warrant.

Mike Gravely: (01:08:33)
So here’s what we know. In his phone, on July 14th, we have a text from him to the Laquisha Booker. This is Jacob Blake mentioning that he has an arrest warrant. This is that May 3rd arrest warrant, now it’s July 14th. And he is talking to her in text talking about his arrest warrant. He has no warrant for anything else, so that is about this case. Even more important is also in his phone are two searches for the exact case that this warrant case is they’re dated August 7th and August 9th. So on his phone are internet searches and what this website does, Circuit Court Access is it tells you whether you have a warrant. One of the things, the major thing it does, if you haven’t appeared, which he hadn’t done was it tells you if there’s a warrant. So remember I showed you the text where he is trying to convince Laquisha to say, “I don’t remember,” and drop charges here. Here he is checking to see if that’s occurring.

Mike Gravely: (01:09:42)
This is just a couple of weeks before the shooting, he knows based on these searches that there is a warrant for his arrest. Another key question, in this case for this star witness, Jacob Blake at a jury trial would be, what is his intention with this knife? Now, this is a huge controversy. Jacob Blake says, “I don’t remember if it was open or not. I don’t think it was open.” We know it was open. We found it that way. You’ve seen the picture, but more importantly, he says, “I had no intention in any way of doing anything towards an officer with this knife. I never lunged at an officer, I never twisted my body towards an officer with this knife. The knife had no impact where I was trying to do something with an officer.” And so, there is a quote from him to DCI. He says to DCI, “Why would I pull a knife on a cop? What am I a knife thrower? I ain’t going to pull no knife on no damn cop, that’s just stupid.” Okay?

Mike Gravely: (01:10:46)
Here’s why this is important. Because when he says to DCI, I would never be that guy. I’m not the guy who would ever pull a knife on a cop, now he is exposed to cross-examination. Remember if he’s going to take the stand, the defense attorneys are going to cross examine him. And the problem is there’s a 2010 case Cook County Sheriff’s Department case, which will be subject to withering cross-examination on Jacob Blake having made that statement I just described. So here’s what would happen. He would be asked on cross-examination, “So you say you’re an individual who would never pull a knife on an officer, is that true? Well, isn’t there a prior occasion in 2010, where you also resisted officers when they tried to command? And isn’t it true that in that case, you also reached into your waistband with your left hand and pulled out a knife,” by the way, that’s what the officers say occurred in our case as well.

Mike Gravely: (01:11:52)
Left hand got the knife out of the waistband, “And isn’t it true that in that case in 2010, you produced a knife where the blade was open?” Remember, in our case, a knife is produced with the blade open, “And isn’t it true that officers jumped back, they yelled knife and they drew weapons. And even after those officers in 2010 drew those weapons, you slashed with an at officer’s chest?” And then he’d be asked to under cross-examination, “Isn’t it true even after officers pointed weapons at you, you proceeded towards them saying, ‘Come on and shoot me,’ still swirling that knife around in a threatening manner? And isn’t it finally true that you refused repeated commands to drop the knife and were tased multiple times before they took you into custody?” Okay?

Mike Gravely: (01:12:50)
A lot of to our case, again, it, in no way would be able to demonstrate to you folks that he acted in conformity. This is 10 years ago, but he would be subject to absolutely devastating cross-examination that a jury would hear about an incident where he did display a knife, and if he denied any of those things, he would be shown the police reports. If I was cross-examining him, I would present him with the police reports and say, “Please read this. Are you saying the officer is lying when he reports each of those details?” That would be the jury trial that would occur if officer Sheskey was charged and the privilege of self defense would be in place. Okay, so I’ve told you about two ways that I think Jacob Blake would be devastated as a witness in a jury trial. And I do that from a professional place. I want to briefly talk about the Laquisha Booker. I’ve mentioned her by name today, despite the fact that she’s a domestic abuse victim in my perception of this case.

Mike Gravely: (01:13:53)
I do that because after a very initial contact on August 23rd, where she confirmed many of the details of this case, she has been completely unavailable to DCI to try to do any followup discussion. So here’s a witness whose present directly for almost all of what happened, she’s the person who originally made the call to police, and she has not made herself available to DCI. And so, really, as a prosecutor, I’m only able to go with the evidence that is available to me and she has not been available. She also was not available to the special prosecutor on that warrant case. So Walworth County took that case as a special prosecutor, they could not find her, they could not serve her. And so, when they resolved their case, they made a record saying, “We’re not able to find her.” Right after Thanksgiving, we were very close to being at a point where we were going to issue a decision in this case.

Mike Gravely: (01:14:50)
And DCI received a tip that has some factual discussion or circumstances as to why Laquisha Booker may not have been available either to DCI or to Walworth law enforcement. And at that time, those things began to be investigated by DCI. And so, we wanted to give DCI an opportunity to see if that investigation could be completed. It’s still a pending investigation. I’m not going to answer any other questions other than we have no specific concern that she’s unsafe, but I’m indicating to you, there is an investigation going on about that. Again, I’m going to refuse to answer any additional questions regarding that. But from my perspective, that’s both important because it did delay this case and also important because it is consistent with the difficulties that a domestic abuse case brings, and she’s a witness who any prosecution of an officer would certainly expect bring.

Mike Gravely: (01:15:49)
Okay, with that, I want to say finally, that Nobel Ray is here, I’m going to introduce him in a moment. And I’m just going to ask you to consider finally that ultimately in a self defense case, what would happen is that officers … that the question would happen is what would a reasonable officer do at each of the decision points here? And that’s why this neutral, independent use of force expert was so important. And so, Nobel Ray was employed in this case. Again, I don’t think it’s ever been done that way before, but he comes with extraordinary qualifications. He has some opinions to offer. And when he’s finished, I’m going to briefly conclude. Thank you very much.

Nobel Ray: (01:16:47)
Well, thank you. What I’m going to do is I’m going to highlight some things, I’m going to stay pretty much close to issues related to use of force related to this particular case. I’m going to be brief because I think the DA has covered most of the points, most of the salient points with this particular case. Let me start off by saying just like many of you, when I was contacted originally by the Attorney General’s office about exploring if I could be part of this particular case, I was a bit surprised because having served as a chief of police in the State of Wisconsin for 10 years and law enforcement here for 30 years, this is something that is unique. This is something that has not been done to my knowledge, where you would have an expert witness in this fashion.

Nobel Ray: (01:17:43)
Usually it’s someone that that is in the field doing it. The reason why I was asked was because in the State of Wisconsin, for those of you that are not aware, there was a law that was passed in 2014 that required that the Department of Criminal Investigations would have to do the investigation. And that was for reasons of transparency, objectivity, et cetera. But before then, as a chief of police in the State of Wisconsin, we had to do our own investigations. So I had the unique responsibility as the chief of police for 10 years of overseeing somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 officer involved shootings. So I come to this with the perspective of having to deal with officer involved shootings as an administrator, as someone who has investigated, and as a 30 year officer that has investigated use of force complaints.

Nobel Ray: (01:18:40)
So that is my background, I believe was the reason, one of the reasons why I was asked along with working at a national level, dealing with reform issues, both on a national level, working as a deputy monitor in Cleveland. I won’t go through a whole lot of the background, but I think those are the reasons why I was asked. My resume and my bio also will be available with my report. So if someone needs to look further in terms of my background, it is available to you. Like most Americans that saw that video back in August, like most Americans, I was very troubled. I was emotionally troubled. As a person that really bothered me. From a human standpoint, it just cut away in ways that most of us really understand. That was very difficult to watch. As a police professional, when I looked at that I had problems. The first thing that came to my mind as Mr. Blake is rounding the corner in front of that vehicle is why didn’t the officers just grab him?

Nobel Ray: (01:19:49)
Why didn’t they just grab a hold of this guy and take him down? Why did they allow for him to get to that side of the car and then shoot him in the back? That’s how I felt. And those were my feelings that I had. The other feelings and emotions that came from this was this. You had a mother and I’m a father, you had a grandmother, you had a mother that you could see on television was in a lot of pain in terms of what happened to her son. You had a father that was angry, which I understood. I understood that time and that date, the anger and the feelings. Having led a police organization for 10 years, I knew that the officers and their families were also going through anguish. Overtones of a domestic violence situation led me to believe that these things are still real in this society, so that’s how I came to this. These are the emotions, these are the thoughts that I came to this.

Nobel Ray: (01:20:54)
I was asked to do an independent investigation, an independent review, again, as an administrator, as someone who has been involved with a use of force issues. So let me hit on some points, because again, I think a lot of the points have been hit on, but I do want to emphasize some things that was there. First of all, officers in the State of Wisconsin and all over the United States are bound by Graham versus Connor. It is at the root of what they’re thinking, it is at the root of how they approach a use of force situation. In Graham versus Connor, there are three things in the State of Wisconsin and all over the United States that an officer is thinking about the use of force. One is the crime and this particular case was unique. The seriousness of the crime was already taken care of in reality, because it was a search warrant, a serious, not a search warrant, a serious felony warrant for sexual assault.

Nobel Ray: (01:21:52)
A serious felony warrant, so that part was taken care of. And what’s important about that is that in most use of force incidents an officer is calculating in their mind, do they have PC? Is this serious enough based upon Tennessee versus Garner, you have to have some level of seriousness, okay? So that was one, the crime. It was already taken care of, the PC was already dealt with by a judge and had been signed off on it. So that’s one. Number two. Number two. Is the person actively resisting? Actively resisting, that means that they’re just doing everything they can not to be taken into custody. And in this particular case, you’ve heard the DA described this. And in this particular case, I would call it extreme actively resistant. There were four areas in which the encounter with the officers took place, and I will describe these four areas.

Nobel Ray: (01:22:51)
Because what most people in America saw was the last part. They saw the part where the struggle is taken place and the officers back away and then Mr. Blake goes around the corner, but there was something that happened before then that I want to describe. What happened before then is officer Sheskey and the officers responded and knew they immediately were going to make an arrest. That’s the nature of an arrest warrant. Officer Sheskey approaches Mr. Blake. They have a brief dialogue. According to officer Sheskey, he believes that Blake is going to try and run. So he immediately reaches out during this very brief conversation and tries to take Blake into custody and it is at that point that it is on. The act of resisting starts to take place. Officer Sheskey is not able, and the other officers are not able to take him into custody.

Nobel Ray: (01:23:53)
This takes place on the back right part of the SUV, of the vehicle. And at that time, Blake has a knife. He’s not displaying it, but he has a knife, he has it on him. And that part, people, again, is not clear. He has is when this encounter first starts. During that portion where they’re at the back right corner panel of the vehicle and they’re struggling with Blake as what was described, he is tased at that time. And let me just go take just one step back. From a use of force standpoint, the way officers are trained is at first, your presence is part of the use of force in what you do. You’ll all go, and you’ve seen the protests that we’ve had. And if you see officers out there, the presence means something. That means that a person knows that when they see an officer, there’s certain things that they should be reticent about and understand what’s going on.

Nobel Ray: (01:24:54)
So presence, then two, dialogue. They try to dialogue, but as what was mentioned, and what I found in the reports is that it happens so quick, there are some comments exchanged between Blake and officer Sheskey and it was on. So presence and dialogue. Those are two different things. Those are two key parts of use of force. Then the third part of this is that they were physically, with open hands trying to take him into custody. And this went on and on and on. Okay. The other part, while they’re at this back right corner panel is that Mr. Blake is tased, the taser prongs based upon the officers, they believe that they deployed the taser in the manner in which it should have worked. Mr. Blake takes the taser prongs out. They have little or no effect. At the same location, they try what is referred to as a dry stun. Now, if you talk to people in the profession that really are experts on tasers and the impact of tasers, this is unusual.

Nobel Ray: (01:26:04)
Tasers work somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70% success rate depending upon the department that is collecting the data. But it is unusual for this to take place, to just pull the taser prongs out, okay? And then also a dry stun, so that is at the back right corner panel. The struggle ensues around to the rear of the vehicle. Again, there are more use of force intervention options as referred to by the State of Wisconsin, the intervention options there. At the rear of the vehicle, what takes place is that they decentralize Blake. And when they talk about decentralize, they took him to the ground, officer Sheskey, who is the primary officer engaged in all of the use of force that takes place here. He takes him to the ground to mobilize him, to make sure that they’re trying to take control. They also, during that time, officer Sheskey delivers strikes to Jacob Blake.

Nobel Ray: (01:27:03)
Sheskey delivers strikes to Jacob Blake to what is referred to as diffuse them, to confuse him. None of these things work. Witnesses can see that not only the struggling in the rear, but they also see that both Blake and Officer Sheskey at one point in time, they have each other in headlocks. Officer Sheskey feels uncomfortable, he feels that his gun is exposed. These are things that take place.

Nobel Ray: (01:27:26)
Now, so you start to the back right corner panel, you go to the rear. The struggle continues to ensue. It reaches a point where Officer Meronek believes that things have gotten out of control. They’re unable to restrain him or take him into custody, that she decides at that particular time to contact dispatch to have more officers respond. And they also make the comment. Two of the officers, Officer Sheskey, Officer Meronek, make the comment that they feel that they don’t have control, they’re starting to feel tired. It’s 87 degrees. It is hot. It is an August day. They’re losing. They feel Blake is actually stronger than they are. So they move back to the back right corner panel. That is the part where everyone starts to see this thing again. That’s what’s covered in video. So you missed the other two parts.

Nobel Ray: (01:28:22)
So when they’re backed by that back right corner panel, that is where, let me take a step back because I’m missing an important piece because it wasn’t covered earlier. When Blake is first contacted, he has the knife, the knife, it drops or it is placed. It is either dropped or placed. It’s kind of unsure when you listen to the statements, but it falls down and it is by the vehicle, underneath the vehicle. And then Blake and the officers are struggling. They go back around. I believe based upon the statements that I’ve read, that he does not have a knife at that time when he is at the rear of the vehicle, that’s why I’m using the locations. So when they struggle back around to the back right corner panel, it is at that time, I believe that Mr. Blake recovers a knife and is armed again. He picks the knife back up. Those are his words, that he picks the knife back up and he is armed at that particular time.

Nobel Ray: (01:29:26)
So back at the right back quarter panel, they’re struggling with him. He is tased again. He pulls the prongs out again. Now during this struggle of the officers, two of the officers are believed that they have seen a knife and they describe it in their reports. The primary officer involved, and that’s Officer Sheskey, has not seen a knife, but he believes that Blake is going for a weapon and he describes that in his report.

Nobel Ray: (01:29:58)
So what you have is that you have the struggle going on, where you have two officers believe that they have seen the knife. They describe it in two different ways. They move back around, and it is at this particular time that the struggle ensues. They’re on the right side, back on the right side of the vehicle. They have backed away. They have tased him. The struggle again continues. And then at one point in time when they’re back on the right side again, it is Officer Meronek who shouts the knife. They see the knife. They see the knife. It is that that point where the officers create distance. They step back with their firearms, and that’s what you see on the video.

Nobel Ray: (01:30:44)
So just again, so it’s really clear. It starts from the back right corner panel. It goes to the back of the vehicle, and then it comes back around. When he comes back around, that is when Blake picks the knife back up. So there was a lot missing out of that. And once he picks the knife back up and as he starts to move around, that is actually the first time that the primary officer in this, Officer Sheskey, sees the knife. That is the first time. So we have this thing that is rapidly evolving. It’s dynamic. How rapidly evolving it was from the time that this thing starts, from the time that the officers arrive and they move around, and as District Attorney Gravely described that as you’ve seen in a video, Blake moves around the vehicle. They go around to the front driver’s side and they start to pull on Blake, and then the shots are fired. From the time the officers arrived until the time those shots are fired, it is one minute, approximately one minute and five seconds. So all of this has taken place in one minute and five seconds. That’s how rapidly evolving the situation was. So I just wanted to give that overview because I think a lot of that was missed.

Nobel Ray: (01:32:05)
Let me quickly go over, because one of the questions that I was asked and I’m constantly asked when people knew that I was involved in this, and again, this was covered, but I do want to hit some of those was, did Blake have a knife? And there was overwhelming information indicating that he did. Investigators in all of the investigations, Blake was very clear that he had a knife. As I mentioned, he had it at the beginning. The knife is dropped at one point in time during the struggle. Blake decides to pick the knife back up. It is armed. It is visible. They see it. They move back around. All three responding officers report seeing it. It was at the end that they all saw it and they reacted to it in a use of force manner.

Nobel Ray: (01:32:52)
Now, just think about this. The two officers saw the knife. Two of the officers saw the knife at the beginning, but because, and this is what I surmise, but because Officer Sheskey was so involved with the struggle that they could not back away, because what you’re trained to do is create distance and space, so you can take evasive action and maybe take cover, maybe create dialogue, and that’s what they did in the end. They created distance and space as you can see in that video.

Nobel Ray: (01:33:25)
There are several photos taken at the scene where you see the knife that was there, that was described in the end when Blake was shot and it’s on the floorboard of the driver’s seat. You also see photos at the processing center where the knife is resting there. Other ways that you know that there was a knife there, the cell phone video shows Blake in possession of the knife, which I was really surprised to see that when I saw that that enhanced video. On the cell phone video, officers are giving verbal commands. This was interesting to me. The officers are giving verbal commands to drop the knife, to drop the knife. But again, none of the witnesses saw that, even the witness that took the video, the cell phone video, did not see that, but you can actually hear the officer saying, drop the knife. A number of witnesses heard officers shouting that, even though it was on the cell phone video. They heard witnesses shouting that and witnesses, in quick summary, will have different perspective, varying accounts of what happened. That’s not unusual. And in this particular case, and the reason why I described the SUV in this, because many times the witnesses were obstructed by certain portions of this encounter. Some saw what took place in the rear. Some saw what took place on the side. Some saw what took place during the actual discharge of the firearm. Keeping in mind that this was a struggle and a struggle with police officers. It was a very active resistance struggle, which creates stress. And when stress occurs, witnesses and police officers will see things in terms of what happens with stress. Things like you get tunnel vision, things like auditory, exclusion, memory distortion, all of those things take place. You focus in on the gun. You may miss other things, that is not uncommon besides the officers that were yelling. As you heard in the video, citizens were yelling.

Nobel Ray: (01:35:48)
Some actually saw Officer Sheskey make initial contact. They heard the exchange. Some actually saw the tasing and the response of that. So there are a whole host of things that the witnesses saw, and it varied in account of my point here is that when this is when this is public, sometimes we think that there’s a conflict, but it depends upon your perspective. It depends upon your location, your distance, your proximity to what’s going on. And then there are all those things that happen in terms of tunnel vision, attentional bias. Do you focus in on something? Do you miss other things? Also, the rapidly evolving nature of this. This took the entire incident, by the time they called dispatch, that shots were fired. It was about one minute and five seconds.

Nobel Ray: (01:36:55)
Going to officers acted reasonably at the scene. There were four key decision points that I looked at, and I want to go through these really quickly, but I do want to hit on them. The initial choice to arrest Blake, they had no choice and we talked about that. The discretion, they did not have any discretion. This was not a lower level warrant. There are times with a lower level of warrant you may say, we’ll decide to come back or do something like that. But in this particular case, it was a felony warrant. They did not have any choice.

Nobel Ray: (01:37:32)
Drawing the firearms after the physical measures did not work during the tasers. When they drew their firearms, all of them were able to see that Blake was armed. The choice to re-engage and to grab Mr. Blake before he got into the vehicle. The DA talked about this, what Officer Sheskey was thinking. He was thinking, I had a person with a warrant who had actively resisted. There’s a child in the vehicle. Will this person leave? Will they flee?

Nobel Ray: (01:38:15)
Now, from a policing standpoint, someone may ask, well, why didn’t they grab him earlier when they’re walking around the vehicle? Well, based upon training, you do not grab someone that is armed with a knife. Their procedure is to step back as I’ve mentioned, and to create distance and to give verbal commands, which they did during this. But if you notice, as soon as Blake got to the vehicle, Mr. Blake got to the vehicle, the officer grabbed him.

Nobel Ray: (01:38:48)
In the officer’s mind and the way I interpreted the reports, in the officer’s mind, you cannot leave. You cannot leave with that child in the vehicle. Now, someone would say, well, it was his child. Keep in mind, the officer didn’t know that that was his child, but it doesn’t matter because any officer worth their salt, they’re not going to let someone leave under these circumstances, not leave. You can have a pursuit. This is the stuff that Amber Alerts are made of. You’ve got the undertones of a domestic. There are reports upon reports and incidents upon incidents, where you have a domestic situation where children become victims. In the city where I was a police chief, one of our quadruple homicides had the undertones of an incident like this, where there were two children that were killed and two adults that were killed in this. So a police officer is not going to allow for him to get into the vehicle and leave. That is critically important.

Nobel Ray: (01:39:52)
And then the last decision point, which is this idea that the police officer is in close proximity. He is holding on to him. And these are the three factors that you would consider under those, and I outlined this in my report and they are this. One, was the person armed? Did they have the instrumentality to put someone in imminent danger themselves or someone else? And the answer to that was yes. Blake had a knife. He had the instrumentality.

Nobel Ray: (01:40:23)
Number two. Was the opportunity there? Yes. They were in close proximity. They were right there. They were no less than two feet away, so the opportunity was there. These are the things that officers are trained on. So you had a weapon, you had opportunity, and then the question of intent. Intent is one of those things that either someone can say, or they can demonstrate by their actions. The fact that Blake turned his body in that regard was in the end thrust a knife forward, that was an example of intent. So the decision point to shoot was based upon those reasons.

Nobel Ray: (01:41:06)
So let me go to, again, for sake of time, let me move to the decision to shoot seven shots, and this is probably the question that I have been asked the most. Why seven shots? Now, first, officers in the state of Wisconsin are trained to shoot until the threat has stopped. That forms a basis. So what you have is a situation where Officer Sheskey is standing there. Officer Renas is standing there and Blake, Mr. Blake, thrust a knife forward. Officer Sheskey decides to shoot, and he’s going to shoot till the threat stops. According to Officer Sheskey, he did not stop shooting until Blake dropped the knife. Now, that encounter in terms of when the shots started and when the shots ended was roughly between 2.5 and three seconds, 2.5 and three seconds, which he got off seven rounds. So at one point in time, which is very difficult to determine, at what point in time did Blake drop the knife? Was it at four shots? Was it at three shots? Was it at six shots? Which is really hard to determine, but in 3.5 seconds it would have had to have, I mean, in 2.5 to three seconds, it would have had to been within that timeframe. So that’s how quickly those seven rounds went off.

Nobel Ray: (01:42:41)
Adding to the complexity of this is something that is referred to as the perception reaction time cycle. And in short, what that is, is that when you decide as a police officer that you need to stop shooting based upon what you see, feel and understand in terms of the stimuli, that this is no longer a threat. So you have to articulate that or think about that in your mind, and then have a physical reaction to stop, the experts of the field say that that takes somewhere in a neighborhood, that gap time takes somewhere in the neighborhood about 1.5 seconds. In that time, you can get off another round and that is the reaction time.

Nobel Ray: (01:43:20)
Adding to the complexity would be things like officer readiness, meaning training, experience, age, all of those things come into play. Also, stress, auditory exclusion, time distortion. This is a stressful environment that the officer is operating in. So that is why I concluded that it was in an acceptable range, an acceptable range, a range. So the range works like this. There are those things that are under, in terms of use of force and there’s those things that are excessive, the accessible range falls right in that category there.

Nobel Ray: (01:44:02)
So let me move to the last thing that I would like to comment on in terms of kind of a framework that you use here is that, as I mentioned, and if I didn’t, I’ll clarify it, the officers involved in this use every one of the intervention options to try to restrain Blake during this situation. It was everything from presence, dialogue, hand techniques, diffusing techniques to tasers, until eventually, unfortunately, really unfortunately, was the use of deadly force.

Nobel Ray: (01:44:42)
In all of those situations, there’s this thing called proportionality and proportionality works like this. One, did they use the proper option for that particular situation? Did they use a taser when it was called for? Did they use dialogue when it was called for? Did they use hand techniques? It needs to match this certain set of situations that the officer is involved with. That is proportionality, that you don’t use, you obviously don’t use a baton to hit someone when the situation calls for dialogue. That’s the type.

Nobel Ray: (01:45:21)
Then it is the amount. Was the amount proper? And in all situations that we saw that the amount was proper. Then the third thing, and that is what America is looking at, and this is why I want to end on that is that even if the officer does all of those things, there is still something that is called the eye test. Does the American public see it in that way? And that is always a question that we struggle with in terms of proportionality. It may be legal. It may be within policy. It may be with training, but there is still a question with the public in terms of proportionality. So I’ll leave it at that and turn it back over to the DA to see if there are any questions for QA.

Derek Monroe: (01:46:08)
Yes. Can I ask a question?

Speaker 6: (01:46:12)
Sure. Go ahead.

Derek Monroe: (01:46:14)
Derek Monroe, [inaudible 00:19:15], Berlin, Germany. According to your policy, which dictates basically shooting someone until the threat is stopped, why is it showing up that it’s mostly that shoot to kill? Why one shot was not sufficient to immobilize someone, either leg or arm? Why did it take seven shots to stop that person?

Speaker 6: (01:46:39)
Yeah. I’ll let Chief Wray talk about that.

Nobel Ray: (01:46:42)
Okay. First, this is evolved. When I first started in policing, we were trained to shoot two rounds, shoot two rounds, recover, examine what is going on in your environment, and if the threat is still continuing, then you shoot two more.

Nobel Ray: (01:47:06)
What has happened or what had happened over time is that between the time that the officer would lower to the low ready, the threat at times would still continue and the officer was in jeopardy, and many times the officer would get hurt or killed. So the training evolved to the point where right now is that you shoot until the threat has stopped.

Nobel Ray: (01:47:27)
Now, many people will think that officers shoot to kill. That is not what they’re trained to do. That is not the philosophical underpinnings of what officers are expected to do. An officer is expected when they’re using deadly force to use deadly force to the point where the threat has stopped. Does that make sense?

Derek Monroe: (01:47:49)
Well, but it’s very subjective because the threat has stopped. The hard world was looking at this. European public looked at this simply as a matter of extreme excessive force would take seven bullets to stop somebody. It’s just not acceptable in many different cultures. Maybe it is acceptable here, but frankly, for a lot of people outside of the United States are looking at this, that looks like a prime example of police abuse.

Nobel Ray: (01:48:15)
I would totally concur with how this came across. I felt that way, but the flip side of that is that it is not necessarily true that in the use of force situation, that it would only take one shot to stop a threat. What you want to do is to stop the threat. That is the intent. That is the approach behind this.

Derek Monroe: (01:48:38)
Thank you.

Adrianne Broaddus: (01:48:40)
Adrianne Broaddus here from CNN. What is your message to members of the black and brown community, those who were expecting at least an attempted murder charge? You said at the beginning of your statement, as a father, it was tough for you to watch. And the District Attorney, I would ask you the same question. At the beginning of your presentation, you outlined so clearly you don’t know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of black and brown people. So let’s speak to that, please. Thank you.

Nobel Ray: (01:49:14)
And the question is, what is it like?

Adrianne Broaddus: (01:49:15)
Well, the question is what is your message to members of the black and brown community? They see you there. They saw you as someone working closely with the case and most likely that they’re trusting.

Nobel Ray: (01:49:28)
My message is this. This was a difficult case. It was a difficult case when I was asked to get involved in this. It was hard for me to get involved in this for a variety of reasons. One because of my work and my profession. One, because being born and raised in the state of Wisconsin, living here and dealing with many of the issues that black and brown people deal with. Dealing with this on a national level, going into cities like San Francisco, Memphis, when all of these high profile, Cleveland, when all of these high profile incidents have come up, I would like once to be able to provide some perspective in one of these incidents to say that this works, the criminal justice system works. It works for you. It works for everyone, but our ultimate obligation is truth. My ultimate obligation in looking at this was to look at the facts and to determine those facts and to share the facts. The reason why I got involved in this is that I wanted to be an outside person that looked at this. And there were decisions that were made by a number of people. We focus on the decisions that were made by the officers, which we should. They are the guardians of democracy. They were the ones there that should take the lead and do the right thing they’re trained, but there are also decisions that are made by people that are involved in this. There are decisions by the person that called. There were decisions by Mr. Blake and some of these decisions place us in jeopardy.

Nobel Ray: (01:51:17)
I listened to Mr. Blake during those audio conversations. I felt bad as a father, a man with so much promise and this happened to him. Seemed like a bright man. I look at the eyes of those eyes of a child that sat in the backseat of that car and wondered how that was going to impact that child and wondered what the future was going to be.

Nobel Ray: (01:51:47)
A criminal justice system is a difficult system. It is hard. It is harsh. It is difficult. It has the history of racism on top of racism, and we are trying to work through this, but we cannot work through this by just trying to find a decision that is comfortable with people. We’ve got to find the right decision. It’s got to be grounded in truth. It’s got to be grounded in facts. That’s the obligation that I was given when they told me to look at this. 30 years and I have struggled with this. It has been a stressful endeavor to be involved in policing for 37 years and to be an African-American male, and I feel it in the worst way. That’s why this was so difficult, but I was not going to step back from it.

Adrianne Broaddus: (01:52:40)
What is the employment status of the three officers involved? Are all of them still with?

Speaker 6: (01:52:46)
Yeah. Neither of us have anything to do with that. So we’re not able to help you in any way on that.

Speaker 7: (01:52:52)
You said that it was impossible for the officers to …

Speaker 8: (01:52:52)
Charging Officer Rusten Sheskey who shot Blake seven times found that that was a reasonable use of force given what happened.