Kyle Rittenhouse is standing trial for the shootings of three men — two of whom died — in the immediate aftermath of demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 25, 2020.
After Jacob Blake, a Kenosha officer had shot and injured him, the demonstrations broke out. The episode was recorded on cellphone video and occurred at a time when protests were ongoing across the country about George Floyd’s murder and the abuse of Black Americans police officers.
In the days that followed Mr. Blake’s death, Kenosha was subject to widespread looting, arson, and property destruction. He claims that the shootings of Mr. Rittenhouse were self-defense and occurred during the third night protests in the city.
First-degree intentional killing.
Attempted first degree intentional homicide.
First-degree reckless murder.
Reckless endangerment (two count).
Homicide charges, which are equivalent to murder charges in other states, carry a maximum sentence that can be served in prison of life. Near the end, a misdemeanor weapon charge was dropped.
Mr. Rittenhouse was 17 years old when the shooting occurred. He lived with his mother in Antioch (Ill.), just over the border from Wisconsin. His father was from Kenosha.
Mr. Rittenhouse was a Kenosha County lifeguard and had a semiautomatic military-style rifle in Wisconsin that he had kept. The authorities claimed that he had purchased it from a friend.
Long before the shooting, Mr. Rittenhouse’s social media accounts were full of posts supporting the police and Blue Lives Matter. He was a cadet in an academy for young police officers.
Those who were shot
Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Kenosha. He was shot to death.
Anthony Huber, 26, lived in Kenosha County. He was shot to death.
Gaige Grosskreutz was 26 years old, a West Allis, Wis. medic. He was shot in his arm and survived.
The trial judge has reiterated a longstanding rule that, because the question of self-defense is at issue in the trial, the people who were shot cannot be referred to as “victims” in his courtroom.
On Aug. 25, demonstrators flooded Civic Center Park in downtown Kenosha. They were located across from a barricaded building that was defended by National Guard troops and police officers. Also present were people dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles with ammunition strapped to their chests — legal for adults in Wisconsin, an open carry state.
Protesters hurled water bottles, fireworks and other objects at police officers. They responded with tear gas or rubber bullets. The crowd was eventually driven from Civic Center Park to Sheridan Road, a major thoroughfare. The majority of protesters had left the area by late evening. However, some remained on Sheridan Road, sometimes arguing and scuffling with several dozen others who claimed that they were there to defend the town.
Video from that night showed that Rittenhouse had joined an armed group that claimed they were there to protect businesses. He was seen milling around Sheridan Road offering medical assistance to protesters. He was followed into the parking lot by Mr. Rosenbaum who had joined the crowd downtown shortly before midnight.
A man was nearby and fired a gun into the air. Just as Mr. Rittenhouse turned towards the gunfire, Mr. Rosenbaum stepped in front of him. The video shows that Mr. Rittenhouse fired four shots, hitting Mr. Rosenbaum in his head.
With at least a dozen others following, Mr. Rittenhouse fled down Sheridan Road. One could be heard yelling, “That’s the shooter!”
Moments later Mr. Rittenhouse tripped over and fell, then fired at Mr. Huber (and Mr. Grosskreutz) who were pursuing him.
As police cars arrived, Mr. Rittenhouse moved toward them, his arms raised. But they drove past him trying to reach the victims.
Source: NY Times