KENOSHA, Wis. — As a jury of 12 Kenosha County residents weighed the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men and wounded a third amid unrest last summer, Jacob Blake, the man who was partially paralyzed in the police shooting that ignited the protests, was miles away in Chicago, where he undergoes physical therapy in an effort to walk again.
Mr. Blake, 30, has set a goal of walking on his own by next summer, said his uncle, Justin Blake, who has remained on the steps outside the courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., during much of Mr. Rittenhouse’s trial.
“He has bad days, there’s no doubt, but he’s so grateful to be alive,” Justin Blake said of Jacob Blake, who, his uncle said, has not been following every turn in the Rittenhouse trial and instead has kept his attention on healing and a new side job, printing T-shirts. “He needs to be focusing on himself, focusing on his children and his new normal,” Justin Blake said.
Jacob Blake was a mechanic student and was living in Kenosha in August 2020 when a woman with whom Blake has many children called 911 to inform them that he was about driving away in her car rental. In minutes, Kenosha police officers arrived at the woman’s home.
Black Mr. Blake appeared to be trying enter the car with a knife in his hand. Rusten Sheskey, an officer of white, shot him seven more times. Several of Mr. Blake’s children were in the back seat of the car.
The bystander video captured the police shooting. It was during protests and anger over police violence that followed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer. Protests broke out in Kenosha too, but the focus quickly shifted from Mr. Blake’s shooting to the looting and fires that were taking place in Kenosha.
Mr. Rittenhouse, a man who lived in Antioch, Ill. just a few days before Mr. Blake was killed, brought a semiautomatic rifle he had stored in Wisconsin to downtown Kenosha. He said he wanted both to protect businesses and to provide medical care.
Mr. Rittenhouse, 18 years old, is currently facing five felonies. He has testified that the three men whom he shot at him in Kenosha on a chaotic night has been defending himself.
He was charged with recklessly murdering Joseph Rosenbaum in his first shooting. Mr. Rittenhouse claimed that he was chasing Joseph Rosenbaum and lunged at him with his gun.
After Mr. Rittenhouse fell on the ground while running away from a group following him after the second shooting, he fatally shot Anthony Huber who had thrown a skateboard at him. He was charged with intentional homicide — a count often called murder in other states — in the death of Mr. Huber, who was a friend of Jacob Blake’s and had been there for protests.
Seconds later, Mr. Rittenhouse shot Gaige Grosskreutz in the back. He was moving toward Mr. Grosskreutz while holding a gun, resulting in a count for attempted intentional homicide. He is also facing two charges of endangering his safety by pointing his gun towards two people.
The jury began deliberating on the charges shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday. They went home that night without reaching a decision. They will be back Wednesday morning to continue deliberations.
The group of 18 possible jurors who watched the trial was winnowed down to 12 through a process that is unusual but a tradition in Judge Bruce Schroeder’s court. Eighteen slips of paper with the jurors’ numbers were placed into a brown container that was spun around, and then Mr. Rittenhouse himself drew six of the papers out of the contraption; those jurors were dismissed, though they were asked to remain at the courthouse as alternates if one of the 12 jurors suffers an illness or is dismissed during deliberations.
The Criminal Charges Against Kyle Rittenhouse
Count 1 – First-degree reckless killing. Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of this crime in connection with the fatal shooting of Joseph D. Rosenbaum. Under Wisconsin law, the crime is defined as recklessly causing death under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life.
The jurors asked for copies the first part of jury instructions regarding self-defense while they were deliberating. They later requested the rest of the instructions. They did not have any questions for the judge Tuesday.
Outside the courthouse, a small group of Mr. Rittenhouse’s supporters and detractors gathered and occasionally squabbled with each other in front of a throng of reporters.
Justin Blake, Mr. Blake’s uncle, has spent most days on the courthouse steps, where he has waved a Pan-African flag and said he believed that Mr. Rittenhouse should be convicted. Bishop Tavis Grant, a pastor and activist in East Chicago, Ind., said he hoped the attention on Mr. Rittenhouse’s trial would bring more scrutiny on another decision he found unacceptable: a choice by the Kenosha County district attorney, announced in January, not to charge Officer Sheskey in the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Mr. Blake has rarely spoken publicly since the shooting, but he told CNN in August that he “didn’t agree” with destructive protests over police conduct but that he understood why they had taken place. He also stated that he believed that Mr. Rittenhouse had been treated differently by the police, because he was a white man.
“For the reasons they said they shot me, they had every reason to shoot him, but they didn’t,” CNN quoted Mr. Blake as saying about Mr. Rittenhouse. “Honestly, if his skin color was different — and I’m not prejudiced or a racist — he probably would have been labeled a terrorist.”
Justin Blake stated Tuesday that it was important for his nephew, Justin Blake, to keep busy.
“He’s just trying to do something that engages him and gets his mind moving and keeps him off thinking of bad things,” Justin Blake said. “He’s a Blake. We shake and go. It’s in our DNA — we don’t stop.”
Julie Bosman, Dan HinkelAnd Sergio OlmosKenosha contributed reporting
Source: NY Times