Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of All Charges In Kenosha Shooting
WASHINGTON — A jury on Friday found Kyle Rittenhouse, the Wisconsin teenger who fatally shot two protesters and wounded a third, not guilty of murder and other felony charges.
The shootings occurred last summer during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The jury deliberated three-and-a-half days before handing down its verdict.
The events of the night of Aug. 25, 2020, were never a matter of debate in the case — more than a dozen videos of what transpired were shown during the trial. The question hanging over the proceedings from their first day to their last, was whether the 18-year-old Rittenhouse’s actions were reasonable.
Prosecutors called 22 witnesses over the course of the trial to prove the Antioch, Illinois, teenager had acted recklessly, instigating the confrontation that led to his fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.
At the time, the three men were participating in a protest against police brutality in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Blake, a Black father, was left partially paralyzed after a White officer fired at him in front of his children.
According to the prosecutors, Rittenhouse provoked the confrontation by pointing a semi-automatic rifle at Rosenbaum. Attorneys for Rittenhouse said their client acted in self-defense after Rosenbaum chased him and threw a bag at him.
In the end, the jury believed the defense, finding Rittenhouse not guilty on charges of first-degree reckless homicide and use of a dangerous weapon, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder had previously dismissed lesser charges in the case, including possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 and failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government.
Rittenhouse sobbed and was held by his lawyers as the jury read its verdict, and afterwards, Thomas Binger, the assistant district attorney who led the prosecution, said only, “The jury has represented our community in this trial and has spoken.”
But Justin Blake, an uncle of the man whose shooting inspired the unrest Rittenhouse entered into the night of the shooting, angrily dismissed the verdict as a byproduct of racism.
“We’re going to continue to fight,” he said outside the courtroom. “And we’re going to continue to be peaceful. Let freedom ring.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers later released a statement in which he said “no verdict will be able to bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or heal Gaige Grosskreutz’s injuries, just as no verdict can heal the wounds or trauma experienced by Jacob Blake and his family.
“No ruling today changes our reality in Wisconsin that we have work to do toward equity, accountability, and justice that communities across our state are demanding and deserve,” the governor continued.
“I’ve seen the pain and the frustration of so many, and we must remain steadfast in our commitment to ending violence in our communities, supporting victims and survivors as they heal from trauma, and rooting out the disparities that are so often inextricably linked to that violence and trauma,” Evers said. “We must be unwavering in our promise to build a state where every kid, person, and family can live their life free of violence and have every chance to be successful.”
Commenting from the White House, President Joe Biden said “while the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken.
“I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” the president continued. “I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.
“I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy. The White House and Federal authorities have been in contact with Governor Evers’s office to prepare for any outcome in this case, and I have spoken with the governor this afternoon and offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety,” Biden said.
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue
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