(MADISON) – Following the detailed announcement by Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley of his decision not to bring criminal charges against the Kenosha officers involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake on August 24, 2020, WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer released the following statement:
In the immediate aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting, the WPPA publicly empathized with those that were deeply impacted by the cell phone video that partially depicted the incident. We also urged the public to reserve judgment until an independent investigation could be undertaken in order to gather additional information and answer the legitimate questions that many people had. Now that the district attorney has issued his comprehensive decision, we continue to maintain our firm support for these two fundamental propositions.
Regardless of the decision in this case, we recognize that Americans of color suffer from racial disparities that are far too prevalent in our society. As Wisconsin’s largest police group, the WPPA will continue to lead and support efforts to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. At the same time, we believe that the case of Jacob Blake effectively highlights the danger that exists when people rush to judgment without the benefit of more definitive information.
Since the district attorney’s announcement, the WPPA has heard from countless officers that are monumentally frustrated and disappointed with the public reactions of some of our elected leaders. The public statement issued by Gov. Tony Evers is seen as particularly irresponsible.
Gov. Evers and others have failed to acknowledge the fact that the investigation into this case definitively refutes the false narrative that was broadcast across the globe last summer. Mr. Blake was widely portrayed as an unarmed good Samaratin that was simply trying to break up a fight when he was shot by the police as he attempted to get in his vehicle and leave with his children. We now know that Mr. Blake was attempting to unlawfully take his children in a vehicle that was not his. Additionally, as a result of Mr. Blake’s own admissions, we also know that he was armed, that he refused to follow the lawful commands of the officers, and that he actively and physically resisted the officers that responded to the 911 call that brought them there that day.
The statement issued by Gov. Evers does not appear to occupy the same reality as these new facts. In ignoring these critical details, Gov. Evers discounted the exhaustive, independent, and transparent investigation that occurred, he dismissed the invaluable service of our officers and the difficult split-second, life and death decisions that we expect them to make, and he missed a crucial opportunity to take a leading role in facilitating an informed public dialogue about policing in Wisconsin. Instead, Gov. Evers chose to stoke the flames of division. As we continue to collectively confront these complicated issues in the future, we respectfully urge Gov. Evers to pursue a more thoughtful and discerning approach – one which we believe is necessary if we are ever to achieve meaningful change for the citizens of our state, without compromising the safety and security that each of them has every right to expect.