Independent consultant to review evidence in Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake

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KENOSHA, Wis. (NewsNation Now) — The Wisconsin Attorney General announced Monday that a former Madison, Wisconsin police chief will serve as an independent consultant for prosecutors deciding whether to file charges against the police officers involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha police officers Aug. 23; the incident was captured on video by a bystander. The shooting prompted new protests in cities across the country over racial injustice.

Noble Wray, the expert who will review the file, is Black. Following his retirement as Madison’s police chief in 2013, Wray received national attention for his work on police reform, fighting racism and educating about implicit bias. Wray was chief for nine years and worked 30 years as a police officer, experience that Attorney General Josh Kaul and Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely said would be crucial when reviewing the file.

“I’m from Wisconsin and this is Wisconsin’s moment of truth,” said Wray. “I want the best for this state and the people of this state.”

Gravely said he requested the consultant but that he asked the Department of Justice to choose.

Kaul said his department’s investigation of the shooting is in its final stages. When it’s done, he will turn it over to Wray for review and an analysis. It will then be up to Gravely about whether to file charges. Gravely said Monday that he had not made any decision about filing charges yet.

Gravely said Wray would bring “diverse” and “abundant” perspectives to the case.

Wray said he will provide insight and perspective to the case but not prejudge it. Wray said he will complete his review as quickly as possible, but he has not been given a timeline once he receives the investigative file. Wray said he has not prejudged the case and believes the state hadn’t either.

“This should be a fair and impartial investigation, it should not come across as something that is prejudged or that the decisions have already been made,” said Wray. “I was more than pleased with the DA’s responses, I was comforted by the fact that I don’t believe a decision has been made. I don’t want to waste my time when I believe a decision has already been made.

The state Justice Department also said it would not announce a decision on whether the officer would face charges until after the investigation has been completed.

All three officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave during the investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is standard practice.

The Wisconsin Attorney General said police were sent to the neighborhood after a woman reported her boyfriend was there and wasn’t supposed to be.

Blake’s attorney Ben Crump has said that Blake was trying to break up a domestic dispute.

The Justice Department said a knife was recovered from an SUV Blake was allegedly leaning into when he was shot, but has not said whether Blake was holding it when officers tried to arrest him.

The man who filmed widely seen cellphone video of the shooting, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted. He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands.

Crump said that Blake’s children – aged 3, 5 and 8 – were inside the car at the time of the shooting.

Blake released a video from his hospital bed earlier this month. Prior to that he appeared from his hospital bed via remote video for his first court appearance on a sexual assault charge unrelated to the Aug. 23 shooting. He pleaded not guilty and a trial date was set for Nov. 9.

Crump previously said that it would “take a miracle” for Blake to ever walk again. Crump said bullets pierced Blake’s spine and shattered one of his ribs, puncturing a lung, damaging his liver and creating holes in his stomach.

Both Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump visited Kenosha in the days following the unrest.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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