By Mei Perez and Hannah Adams
KENOSHA, WI — Then 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, in August of 2020, drove from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he shot and killed two people and wounded another.
This week, now 18 and on trial for murder, he took the stand to give his testimony on the events leading up to the shooting.
Rittenhouse stated that his objectives were to offer medical assistance, provide water for the officers on scene and to protect a used car lot; he mentioned that he brought the AR-15 gun for his protection, and did not plan on using it.
“Our job is to protect this business and part of my job is to also help people. If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle because I can protect myself, obviously,” Rittenhouse stated when describing the intentions of himself and other armed individuals at the scene.
Following the shooting, Rittenhouse was charged with five felonies: first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, first-degree reckless homicide of Anthony Huber, attempted first-degree intentional homicide of Gaige Grosskreutz, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety, for shots fired at others.
To all of these charges, Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense to his possession and use of the firearm.
When describing the altercation between himself and Rosenbaum, the defendant stated that Rosenbaum was the initial aggressor, yelling death threats at Rittenhouse and chasing him into a car lot, where the defendant turned around to face his pursuer.
Rittenhouse stated “I pointed my gun at him, and that did not deter him. He could have run away instead of trying to take my gun from me, but he kept chasing me. It didn’t stop him.” According to the defense, Rosenbaum then lunged for the gun, “I remember his hand was on the barrel of my gun,” which is when Rittenhouse shot four times, killing Rosenbaum.
Following the altercation with Rosenbaum, the prosecution cited a video of Rittenhouse firing an AR-15 at the second and third people that he shot that night: Anthony Huber, the second homicide victim, and Gaige Grosskreutz, who was paralyzed from the waist down after Rittenhouse fired into a crowd.
Huber was swinging a skateboard at Rittenhouse, and Grosskreutz testified earlier this week that he had aimed a gun at Rittenhouse just before he was shot.
Lead prosecuting attorney, Thomas Binger, repeatedly accused Rittenhouse of using deadly force with the intent to kill during his questioning of the defendant, and charged Rittenhouse has not given his testimony until after ample opportunity to watch videos, read articles, and hear witness testimony regarding the case.
Judge Bruce Schroeder interrupted the examination and asked the jurors to leave the courtroom to admonish Binger for his line of questioning, stating “This is a grave Constitutional violation for you to talk about the defendant’s silence. This is not allowed.”
Judge Schroeder had to ask the jurors to leave the courtroom a second time during Binger’s questioning to reprimand him once again for inappropriate tactics.
In regards to Binger’s rather confrontational examination, Rittenhouse’s lawyers requested Judge Schroeder declare a mistrial with prejudice, eliminating any possibility of a retrial.
Judge Schroeder stated that he would consider their proposition, but he is not willing to officially rule on the matter just yet. As of currently, the trial is set to reconvene with Binger as the lead prosecutor with Rittenhouse taking the stand once more.
The trial will resume Friday.