Media Mostly Ignore a Key Reason Kenosha Cop Was Not Charged

Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, as all the broadcast evening and morning news casts informed viewers of the news that the Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake in August would not be charged in the incident, most shows ignored one of the most critical details given for why his actions were considered justifiable self-defense.

ABC’s Good Morning America was the only show on the broadcast networks that explained that the officer in the case, Rusten Shevskey, was trying to prevent Blake from kidnapping his three children who were in the vehicle that Blake himself had allegedly admitted that he intended to steal from his ex-girlfriend.

Over on MSNBC, Morning Joe gave the story the worst coverage as co-host Mika Brzezinski allowed Al Sharpton as a guest to give a very biased view that it was not a self-defense case simply because Blake was moving away from the officer. MSNBC did not mention the danger posed to the children if the officers had allowed him to get into the vehicle and drive away.

As Brzezinski set up the discussion, she avoided most of the arguments in favor of the officer’s actions while including the anti-police narrative dismissing the rationale for officer’s actions:

According to (prosecutor Michael) Gravely’s report Tuesday, Blake told investigators he dropped the knife near the vehicle and picked it up intending to put it in the car because it was a gift he wanted to keep. Gravely said he believed a jury would conclude the shooting had been self-defense. According to local NPR, Blake’s uncle called the decision, quote, “a slap in the face” by the Wisconsin government but called on people to rise up in a nonviolent way.

In his response, Sharpton — who also hosts MSNBC’s PoliticsNation on weekends — left out key details as he complained: “How do you have a young man moving away from you claiming self-defense? He was going the other way, he was getting in the car? So what made it necessary for this officer to shoot him seven times in the back when he’s fleeing from him?”

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The race-obsessed MSNBC host added:

So even if you want to say the young man had a knife, he was not using a knife pursuing you — he was running away from you. I think this is an absolute judicial disgrace, and I will be standing with Jacob Blake Sr. and others trying to pursue ways that they can get redress in terms of the examination of the facts because clearly self-defense does not appear to have been in the realm of reality when you look at that tape of a young man running in the other direction and the policeman chasing him and then shooting him in the back seven times.

But, over on Good Morning America, ABC News correspondent Alex Perez referred to the press conference given by Gravely in which he recalled that the police officers had already tried unsuccessfully to stop Blake by tasing him and by wrestling him to the ground. Perez also explained that Blake was about to drive away with the children already in the car:

ALEX PEREZ: This disturbing video of the incident back on August 23rd sparked days of protests. Police were responding to a domestic dispute call from Blake’s girlfriend. … Cell phone video shows 29-year-old Blake struggling with Officer Rusten Sheskey and another officer. Both employed their tasers, but they were unsuccessful as Blake appears to lean into the driver’s side of the car.

Sheskey opens fire. Blake’s three young boys in the back seat were not injured. On Tuesday, the prosecutor said Blake was armed, and that officers thought he was trying to kidnap the children. They said Blake admitted he had a knife. He told investigators he never intended to stab the officer.

Gravely recalled that the officers had already been told before they arrived that Blake had an arrest warrant for a sexual assault against his ex-girlfriend, and for stealing her keys intending to take her SUV, which was the subject of her 911 call that day.

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The other network shows gave most of the same details and recalled that it was deemed a self-defense case because of the knife that posed a danger to the officer, but without mentioning the danger to the children.

This episode of MSNBC’s Morning Joe was sponsored in part by Lincoln. Their contact information is linked.

Transcripts follow:

MSNBC

Morning Joe

January 6, 2021

6:54 a.m. Eastern

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Reverend Al, we want your reaction of yesterday’s development out of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The police officer, who was white and who was caught on a cell phone recording shooting Jacob Blake, a black man, in the back several times, will not face criminal charges. Kenosha district attorney Michael Gravely announced that Officer Rusten Shevskey, who’s been on administrative leave since August 23rd, that shooting that day, will not be changed because Blake was armed with an open knife and he was holding that in his right hand when he went back to the vehicle. The report said he, Blake, who survived the shooting and is now paralyzed from the waist down, was holding a knife.

According to Gravely’s report Tuesday, Blake told investigators he dropped the knife near the vehicle and picked it up intending to put it in the car because it was a gift he wanted to keep. Gravely said he believed a jury would conclude the shooting had been self-defense. According to local NPR, Blake’s uncle called the decision, quote, “a slap in the face” by the Wisconsin government but called on people to rise up in a nonviolent way. Blake’s shooting was among those that sparked protests last year and again last night over police violence against black suspects. Reverend Al?

AL SHARPTON: Well, when the news came out, I happened to be in Columbus, Ohio, doing a eulogy of an unarmed victim of police shooting, Andre Hill, with the attorney general of black America, attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Blake family. I was not surprised a local prosecutor would do this, but as I talked to Jacob Blake Sr. last night and attorney Crump, how do you have a young man moving away from you claiming self-defense? He was going the other way, he was getting in the car? So what made it necessary for this officer to shoot him seven times in the back when he’s fleeing from him?

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So even if you want to say the young man had a knife, he was not using a knife pursuing you — he was running away from you. I think this is an absolute judicial disgrace, and I will be standing with Jacob Blake Sr. and others trying to pursue ways that they can get redress in terms of the examination of the facts because clearly self-defense does not appear to have been in the realm of reality when you look at that tape of a young man running in the other direction and the policeman chasing him and then shooting him in the back seven times.

(…)

ABC

Good Morning America

January 6, 2021

7:37 a.m. Eastern

ALEX PEREZ: This disturbing video of the incident back on August 23rd sparked days of protests. Police were responding to a domestic dispute call from Blake’s girlfriend. … Cell phone video shows 29-year-old Blake struggling with Officer Rusten Sheskey and another officer. Both employed their tasers, but they were unsuccessful as Blake appears to lean into the driver’s side of the car.

Sheskey opens fire. Blake’s three young boys in the back seat were not injured. On Tuesday, the prosecutor said Blake was armed, and that officers thought he was trying to kidnap the children. They said Blake admitted he had a knife. He told investigators he never intended to stab the officer.

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