The Justice Department today announced that it would not pursue federal criminal civil rights cases against a Kenosha Police Department officer for his role in the Aug. 2020, killing of 30- year-old Jacob Blake.
Representatives of the Blake family were informed by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Wisconsin about this decision. This decision was made by the department because there is not enough evidence to show that the KPD officer used excessive force.
A team of federal prosecutors from both the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office examined evidence obtained by the FBI or state investigators to determine if the officer had violated federal laws. They focused on the application deprivation under color law, which is a federal civil rights statute that prohibits certain forms of official misconduct. They reviewed a wide range of materials including police reports and law enforcement accounts, witness statements and affidavits.
Under federal criminal civil rights laws prosecutors must prove beyond reasonable doubt that an officer “willfully” deprived an individual of a constitutional human right. This means that the officer had the specific and deliberate intent to do something that is prohibited by law. This is the most stringent standard of intent required by law. A federal criminal civil rights violation can be established by not only bad judgement, but also mistakes, fear, fear, negligence and/or misfortune.
After a thorough and careful review, federal prosecutors concluded that there was not enough evidence to show that the KPD officer willfully violated federal civil rights statutes. The federal prosecution has been rescinded and the incident is closed.