Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty in Kenosha shooting
KENOSHA, WIS. –
Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on Friday after testifying that he acted in self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shooting that has become the focus of debate over guns, vigilantism and inequality racial justice in America
Rittenhouse, 18, began to choke, fell towards the defense desk and then hugged one of his lawyers when he heard a court clerk declare “not guilty” five times. The deputy sheriff chased him out the back door.
“He wanted to get on with his life,” said defense attorney Mark Richards. “He’s very relieved for what the jury did to him today. He wishes this never happened. But as he said when he testified, he didn’t start. this.”
The verdict in a politically explosive case was met with anger and frustration from those who see Rittenhouse as a vigilante and a cop who wants to work, as well as relief and a sense of being justified. injustice from those who saw him as a patriot who stood up against his lawlessness and actions. Second Amendment rights to bear arms and defend themselves. Supporters have donated more than $2 million to his legal defense.
Father Jesse Jackson, a longtime civil rights leader, said the ruling casts doubt on the safety of pro-black American protesters.
“To me, it seems to be the opening season for human rights protesters,” he said.
Rittenhouse was charged with murder, attempted murder and reckless endangerment of killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle in the summer of 2020 in one night. chaos over protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha cop.
Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old former police teenager, said he went to Kenosha to protect property from rioters but he was attacked and feared for his life. He was white, as were the people he shot.
The anonymous jury, whose racial makeup was not disclosed by the court but appeared to be overwhelmingly white, deliberated for nearly three and a half days.
US President Joe Biden called for calm, saying that although the outcome of the case “will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, including myself, we must acknowledge that the jury spoke out.”
Former President Donald Trump, who at the time of the shooting said it appeared Rittenhouse had been “attacked very violently,” released a statement Friday congratulating Rittenhouse on the ruling, adding ” if it’s not self-defense, then nothing!”
Rittenhouse could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious offences, first-degree murder or what some other states call first-degree murder. Two other crimes, each carrying more than 60 years behind bars.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said his office respects the jury’s decision, and he asks the public to “accept the verdict peacefully and without resorting to violence.”
Before the ruling, Democratic Governor Tony Evers announced that 500 National Guard members were ready in case of trouble. But hours after the jury returned, there was no sign of any major protests or unrest in Kenosha.
In releasing the jurors, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder assured them that the court would take “everything” to keep them safe.
Wisconsin Governor Mandela Barnes, who is black and the Democratic candidate for the US Senate, dismissed the result. He, like many civil rights activists, saw a double standard of race in the workplace in this case.
“Over the past few weeks, a lot of people have been scared of the results we just saw,” Barnes said. “The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is what we should expect from our justice system, but that standard doesn’t always apply equally. We’ve seen it. so many young blacks and browns were killed, only to be put on trial after death, while Kyle Rittenhouse’s innocence was mostly ordered by the judge.”
Other political figures on the right welcomed the verdict and condemned the case against Rittenhouse.
Mark McCloskey, who got into trouble with the law when he and his wife brandished rifles and a shotgun at Black Lives Matter protesters marching through his home in St. Louis in 2020, said the ruling showed people had a right to protect themselves from “the mob.” He is currently the Republican candidate for the United States Senate in Missouri.
Fifteen minutes after the rulings, the National Rifle Association tweeted the contents of the Second Amendment.
The Kenosha case is part of an unusual combination of trials that reflect deep racial divisions in the United States: In Georgia, three white men are on trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, in While in Virginia, trial was underway in a lawsuit over a deadly white supremacist rally held in Charlottesville in 2017.
The bloodshed in Kenosha comes during a summer of sometimes violent protests across the US over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other cases involving police use of force against people. Black skin.
Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, after businesses were ransacked and burned in the nights following Blake’s shooting. He, along with other armed civilians on the street, carried a weapon that authorities said was illegally purchased for him because he was underage.
Video by bystanders and drones captures most of the frenzied sequence of events that followed: Rittenhouse kills Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, then fatally shoots protester Anthony Huber, 26, and protester Gaige Grosskreutz , now 28 years old injured.
Prosecutors described Rittenhouse as a “trouble-shooting soldier” that night and responsible for creating a dangerous situation in the first place by pointing a gun at protesters.
But Rittenhouse testified: “I did nothing wrong. I defended myself.”
Stopping sobbing at one point, he told the jury he opened fire after Rosenbaum gave chase and grabbed his gun. He said he was afraid his gun would be lost and used to kill him.
Huber was later killed after stabbing Rittenhouse in the head or neck with a skateboard, and Grosskreutz was shot after approaching with a pistol in his hand.
Under questioning by the prosecution, Grosskreutz said he had raised his hands as he entered the Rittenhouse and had no intention of shooting the young man. Prosecutor Thomas Binger asked Grosskreutz why he didn’t open fire first.
“That’s not my type of person. That’s not why I’m out there,” he said. “That’s not who I am. And certainly not someone I want to be.”
But during cross-examination, Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Corey Chirafisi asked: “It wasn’t until you pointed the gun at him, walked towards him … that he fired, didn’t he?”
“Yes,” replied Grosskreutz. The defense also released a photo showing Grosskreutz pointing a gun at Rittenhouse, who was on the ground with the rifle pointed at Grosskreutz.
Grosskreutz, under questioning by prosecutors, said he had no intention of pointing his weapon at Rittenhouse.
Following the ruling, Huber’s parents, Karen Bloom and John Huber, said the results “send an unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, inciting violence.” and then use the danger they’ve created to justify shooting people in the street.”
Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, sat near her son on the bench in the courtroom, gasping for joy, crying and hugging those around him.
Richards, the defense attorney, said that Rittenhouse wants to be a nurse and that he is being counseled about post-traumatic stress disorder and may be moving because it is “too dangerous” for him to continue living. in the area.
Coming in, many legal experts said they believe the defense has an advantage because of the favorable provisions for Rittenhouse’s Wisconsin self-defense law, and the video shows him being chased at key moments. Testimony from some of the prosecution’s witnesses seemed to back up his self-defeating claims.
Several witnesses described Rosenbaum as “warlike” and said he dared others to shoot him and threatened to kill Rittenhouse earlier that night; others said he acted “aggressively” but did not appear to be seriously threatening. A videographer testified that Rosenbaum lunged at the rifle shortly before he was shot, and a pathologist said his wound appeared to show his hand was on the barrel.
In addition, Rosenbaum’s fiancée revealed that he was taking medication for bipolar disorder and depression. Rittenhouse’s attorneys considered Rosenbaum a “madman”.
Rittenhouse has also been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon against a person under the age of 18, a misdemeanor that can lead to nine months behind bars and appears likely to result in conviction.
But the judge brought that charge before deliberation after the defense argued that Wisconsin law did not apply to long-barreled rifles used by Rittenhouse.
The rulings closed the criminal case against Rittenhouse. He is not facing any federal charges and he is unlikely because federal law only applies in very limited circumstances to murders. No civil lawsuits have yet been brought against Rittenhouse, but there are lawsuits aimed at others. Huber’s father is suing police and government officials in Kenosha alleging that they allowed a dangerous situation to lead to his son’s death, and Grosskreutz has a similar lawsuit. A group of protesters sued the city and county of Kenosha alleging that curfews were enforced against them but not against armed men like Rittenhouse.
Associated Press writer Tammy Webber contributes from Fenton, Michigan; Aaron Morrison is from New York. Bauer reported from Madison, Wis., and Forliti from Minneapolis.