Noble Wray will serve as an independent expert consultant for the Kenosha County district attorney.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is enlisting the help of former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray for expert analysis and recommendations as the investigation into the Jacob Blake shooting wraps up, Attorney General Josh Kaul announced Monday.
The announcement, made in a Monday press conference, came 29 days after Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back at point-blank range. Sheskey is white. Activists have called for Sheskey to be criminally charged in the shooting, which left Blake paralyzed. The DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation is currently wrapping up its investigation, Kaul said.
The DOJ is performing the investigation, as is standard practice in Wisconsin when a police officer is involved in a shooting. Wray will review the findings when the investigation is complete, and then provide use-of-force and police policy analysis to Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley, Kaul said.
“I am confident that Chief Wray will provide a thoughtful and fair analysis of the facts in this case,” Kaul said.
Sheskey shot Blake on Aug. 23 after police responded to a call from a woman who said her boyfriend was at her residence but wasn’t supposed to be there, according to the DOJ. Sheskey and two other responding officers, all of whom are now on administrative leave, tried arresting Blake, who walked away to his car.
When Blake opened his driver’s side car door, Sheskey grabbed Blake’s shirt and shot him seven times. Three of Blake’s children were in the car
Blake “admitted that he had a knife in his possession,” and investigators found a knife on the driver’s side floorboard of his car, according to the DOJ. However, it is unclear whether Blake was armed at the time of the shooting or whether Sheskey knew about the knife when he opened fire.
Kaul said the investigation is almost done but would not give a hard deadline for when investigators would give Wray their findings.
Graveley, a Democrat, told reporters that he will not make a charging decision until Wray turns in his analysis. Graveley said he will then consult with Wray and possibly request more information from investigators at that time.
“The priority at each and every stage of this investigation for both DCI and the Kenosha District Attorney’s office is that this investigation be complete, that it be comprehensive in all ways, and that it be fair,” Graveley said. “A comprehensive and fair investigation is absolutely what all parties involved in this case deserve.”
Graveley said that while he requested an expert consultant, he had no hand in choosing Wray. Graveley pledged that he has not made up his mind on the charging decision yet.
Wray, who is Black, told reporters he will be an independent voice in his analysis and that he brings a unique perspective as a former police chief. He retired from the Madison Police Department in 2013 and has since gone on to be a consultant on a national level, including for the federal DOJ, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
“I bring three things: One, not to prejudge; two, as an officer, as a supervisor, as a police manager; and as a subject matter expert that has dealt with these issues nationwide,” Wray said.
Wray declined to give a timeline on how quickly he will hand over his analysis to Graveley but said he will “move with deliberate speed” after DCI gives its investigation to him. He said he was “honored” to have been tapped to be the case’s expert consultant.
“This is Wisconsin’s moment of truth,” Wray said. “And I want the best for the state and the people in this state.”
The FBI, federal DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, and US Attorney’s Office for Wisconsin’s Eastern District are performing a “parallel” civil rights investigation into the shooting.
The Blake shooting set off more than a week of protests in Kenosha. Demonstrations at times turned violent, with rioters burning down several buildings in the predominantly Black Uptown neighborhood and an armed militia member fatally shooting two protesters.
Kenosha’s mayor, Democrat John Antaramian, responded to the unrest by announcing a series of listening sessions on racism in the community from which he hopes to implement systemic changes. The first listening session, held on Sunday, drew about 40 people who spoke about their experiences and hopes for change, according to the Kenosha News.