By Delilah Hammons and Gabriel Eskandari
KENOSHA, WI – During the prosecution’s closing arguments in the Kenosha County Courthouse this Monday in the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger analyzed several videos and summarized his evidence for the jury to prove Rittenhouse’s guilt.
During a protest in Kenosha last year, Rittenhouse killed two people with an AR-15 and injured a third, and is facing several charges including first degree reckless homicide.
The jury began deliberations Tuesday.
But on Monday, DA Binger first attempted to explain why the crowd saw Rittenhouse not only as a threat, but also as an active shooter.
DA Binger showed a video that displays Rittenhouse running from a crowd after shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person Rittenhouse killed. DA Binger stated Rittenhouse lied to the crowd at the protest about his actions.
In the video referred to as Exhibit 12, Rittenhouse is being asked why he killed Rosenbaum as he runs away, and Rittenhouse can then be heard saying “he pulled a gun.” DA Binger said that this was a lie:
“Joseph Rosenbaum didn’t have a gun, the defendant knew he didn’t have a gun, the defendant is lying to save his own skin instead of going and trying to help the person he just shot and killed.”
DA Binger then showed a Facebook Live video referred to as Exhibit 3, where he argued that it can be heard that Rittenhouse lies again to people in the crowd, saying he didn’t shoot anyone.
DA Binger argued that the crowd was dealing with what they believed was an active shooter, and that they were concerned about where he was going next. He stated that the crowd saw someone with a gun who was lying to them and who had shot someone, and that this is provocation to them.
DA Binger stated, “It is entirely reasonable for that crowd to believe at that moment that he is a threat to kill again.”
DA Binger argued Rittenhouse could have stayed at Rosenbaum’s body, helped protect him, or called 911. He further argued that he could’ve fired warning shots, dropped the gun, or raised his hands and surrendered, but instead, “Everything he does is indicative of someone who is still a threat.”
The DA argued the crowd has a right to stop an active shooter, and that the defendant is not the only one who has a right to self-defense.
While the crowd could have used deadly force, said DA Binger, he noted the crowd, instead, attempted to disarm Rittenhouse, with Anthony Huber coming at him with a skateboard and trying to grab his gun, with someone else trying to kick him in the face, and with Gaige Grosskreutz only trying grab at Rittenhouse’s gun despite having his own gun.
DA Binger explained Grosskreutz “reaches for the gun to try to disarm the defendant. Gaige Grosskreutz had his own gun in his own hand, he could have aimed it and fired it at the defendant but he did not,” because, DA Binger stated, he is not the type of person to just take a person’s life in an instant, unlike the defendant.
Also, DA Binger showed a video, referred to as Exhibit 5, that traced this incident.
This scuffle is when Rittenhouse kills Huber and shoots Grosskreutz. “In just a few seconds, the defendant kills one person, attempts to kill two more, and blows off Gaige Grosskreutz’s arm. It’s that fast. This is someone who has no remorse, no regard for life, only cares about himself,” argued DA Binger.
DA Binger said the only time Grosskreutz’s gun was pointing at Rittenhouse was after his arm, that was holding it, had been severed by the gunshot wound.
DA Binger then switched gears in order to, according to him, highlight the hypocrisy of the defense:
“According to the defense, if someone has a gun they’re a threat. If someone points a gun they’re a threat. There’s only one exception to that: the defendant. By their logic, he gets to run around with a gun all night. But, oh, we’re not supposed to take him as a threat. He gets to point the gun at everyone. But, oh, we’re not supposed to take him as a threat. No, it doesn’t work that way. The same set of rules apply to the defendant as everybody else. There’s no exception to the law for Kyle Rittenhouse.”
DA Binger then switched directions again, stating that he wanted to put everything into context.
He first pulled up a screenshot of Rittenhouse’s TikTok account, which was titled “4doorsmorewhores,” had a profile picture of Rittenhouse holding an AR-15, and had a bio that read, “Bruh I’m just tryna be famous.”
DA Binger then tried to argue about Rittenhouse’s ignorance about the AR-15. He stated Rittenhouse had only fired it in one other instance before the protest, that he wanted it because he said it looked cool, and that he didn’t seem to know or care much about the type of ammunition or type of gun.
He explained that Rittenhouse had loaded his gun with 30 rounds of full metal jacket ammunition, which, unlike hollow-point ammunition, he stated, is meant to go through its target and carry on.
“There are houses, there are churches, there are daycares, there are schools nearby, and you’re firing full metal jacket ammunition around,” DA Binger said.
DA Binger then attacked Rittenhouse’s claim that he was at the protest to be a medic, commenting, “The defendant has admitted the gun was useless when he was going to treat people as a medic because it got in the way, he had to take it off and hand it to someone. So you can’t use it as a medic, you can’t use it to protect the building, so what’s it there for?” DA Binger asked.
He also stated that no serious credible medic would wear an AR-15 slung around their body, and that it doesn’t send an inviting message that they are there to help.
DA Binger then stated that Rittenhouse lied to the press about being a certified EMT. “He’s like a quack doctor practicing without a license. That puts lives at risk,” DA Binger said.
DA Binger added, “So how do we evaluate the defendant’s performance as a medic that night? Well, on one hand he wrapped an ankle and I think maybe helped somebody who got a cut on their hand. Yay. On the other hand he killed two people, blew off Gaige Grosskreutz’s arm, and put two more lives in jeopardy. So you know, when we balance your role as a medic that night, I don’t give you any credit.”
DA Binger stated that most reasonable people didn’t go out to Kenosha that night, suggesting Rittenhouse’s decision to do so was unreasonable:
“The curfew, the riots, the arson, the looting that we’d seen in those prior nights, roadblocks set up around downtown, closed exits on the interstates, all of this was sending the message to reasonable people: ‘Go away, don’t come down here.’ Who was left at 11:45 at night? Most reasonable people had gone home before the curfew or never even came at all,” DA Binger stated.
Also, according to DA Binger, though Rittenhouse said he was there to protect Car Source, a business, DA Binger also stated that Car Source was empty that night and that the owners testified that they moved all the cars and tools.
Then, DA Binger focused on Joseph Rosenbaum, the person Rittenhouse killed first.
He stated that because Rosenbaum was dead and cannot speak for himself, he was an easy target for the defense. So, DA Binger wanted to talk more in detail about him.
With a seemingly sarcastic tone, DA Binger stated, “Let me tell you all the awful things Joseph Rosenbaum did. He tipped over a porta potty that had no one in it. He swung a chain. He lit a metal garbage dumpster on fire, oh and there’s this empty wooden flatbed trailer that they pulled out in the middle of the road and they tipped it over to stop some BearCats, and they lit it on fire. Oh and he said some bad words, he said the n-word.”
Then, DA Binger became serious again: “If he [Rosenbaum] were alive today … I’d probably try to prosecute him for arson, but I can’t because the defendant killed him.
“I’m not here to say the things that Joseph Rosenbaum did were good, or that I condone that type of behavior, not at all. But he didn’t deserve to die for it. You can’t kill someone for these things,” DA Binger went on.
DA Binger further characterized Rosenbaum as a five foot, four inch tall, 150-pound man who posed no real threat to Rittenhouse or anyone else.
The crux of the defense’s argument, stated DA Binger, relied on a threat that Rosenbaum supposedly made to Rittenhouse. DA Binger stated, however, that dozens of people had been out there recording all night long, and that no video evidence could be found of the threat.
DA Binger also stated that in the testimony of Ryan Balch, another man who was with Rittenhouse for parts of the night and also had an AR-15, Balch said the threat occurred after an incident relating to an attempted dumpster fire lighting.
DA Binger showed a video referred to as Exhibit 18 that supposedly showed this dumpster incident, and argued that the threat did not appear in the video.
Lastly, DA Binger addressed the jury directly: “You are here to decide whether or not his actions are legally justified. Not to buy pathetic excuses that might be given to you.”
DA Binger said, “We all know this case comes down to self-defense. But there’s a high bar for using deadly force in a self-defense situation. The law says that ‘The defendant may intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if the defendant reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.’
“So did Joseph Rosenbaum pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to the defendant? No way. Did Anthony Huber pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to the defendant? Absolutely not,” DA Binger stated, as he wrapped up his closing arguments.