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Jacob Blake sues Kenosha police officer after prosecutors declined to seek criminal charges

An African American man who was paralyzed after he was shot in the back by a Kenosha, Wis., police officer is suing the officer after prosecutors declined to seek criminal charges.

Why it matters: The federal lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court comes during stalling efforts to massively reshape police departments nationwide after last summer's protest over systemic racism and police excessive force.

Driving the news: Lawyers for Jacob Blake accused Kenosha officer Rusten Sheskey in court documents of excessive deadly force and violating Blake's constitutional rights.

  • Court documents say Sheskey shot Blake in the back with "malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference" to his rights.
  • Blake's lawyers are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
  • No attorney was listed for Sheskey.

Flashback: Video of Sheskey shooting Blake last August went viral online and generated three days of violent protests in the southeastern Wisconsin city.

  • Police had been called to the scene to resolve a domestic dispute.
  • An investigation by the state Department of Justice claimed that Blake was armed with a knife in the moments that led up to the shooting.
  • Graveley said he could not disprove Sheskey's claim that he feared for his life when he fired seven shots at Blake.

The bottom line: Activists say police mishandled the situation and didn't need to shoot Blake from behind following a scuffle. Advocates are seeking new legislation to make it easier to prosecute and sue officers for alleged misconduct.

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