The jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges on Friday after a three-week trial. His charges involved homicide, attempted homicide, and several other crimes pertaining to the August 2020 shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The then-17-year-old had shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, with an AR15 rifle. He also injured 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz with the same weapon. Grosskreutz had said that he lost 90% of his right bicep. After the shooting, Grosskreutz filed a lawsuit, claiming that Wisconsin authorities were aware of the fact that a “band of white nationalist vigilantes” had been deputized during the Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Today, the lawsuit proceedings have, as of yet, not been concluded.
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During the court proceedings, the jury had received two very different accounts of the events from both sides. On the 25th of August 2020, Rittenhouse was present in Kenosha during a period of unrest in the city. Protests had erupted after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, who suffered from paralysis from the waist down after the incident.
The defense claimed that Rittenhouse had acted out of self-defense. According to the defense’s argument, Rittenhouse meant to help guard a used-car dealership from looting and arson. He merely shot the three men out of fear for his own life after they attacked him. He allegedly carried a medical kit along with his gun and was present in Kenosha to protect private property following the unrest in the city.
“I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me,” Rittenhouse testified in court.
In his testimony, he further stated that he shot Huber after the man struck him with a skateboard and tugged at his weapon. A journalist from a conservative website also testified that Rosenbaum had lunged for the rifle before Rittenhouse fired his gun at Rosenbaum. Rittenhouse then opened fire on Grosskreutz when the man pointed his pistol at Rittenbaum, which Grosskreutz acknowledged in court as well.
However, prosecutor Thomas Binger in his opening statement claimed that even though hundreds of people “experienced the night of August 25, experienced the chaos, the only one who killed anyone was…Kyle Rittenhouse.”
From the prosecution’s point of view, Rittenhouse was a reckless vigilante. He furthermore showed no remorse for the men he had shot and was the one who provoked these violent encounters. Rittenhouse had fired four rounds into a motionless Rosenbaum, who was bleeding and groaning. Another video that was presented to the jury depicted Grosskreutz screaming while blood poured out from his arm.
Kyle Rittenhouse Acquitted by The Court: Mixed Reactions Follow
Rittenhouse burst into tears and collapsed to the floor upon the passing of the verdict.
“I believe [the jury] came to the correct verdict,” Rittenhouse had said. “And I’m glad that everything went well. It’s been a rough journey, but we made it through it. We made it through the hard part.”
The general public’s view on the court’s decision is split. To several pro-gun conservatives, these shootings were justified by law. On the other hand, many on the left wing agree with the prosecution’s stance in labeling Rittenhouse as a vigilante. The judge’s verdict in Rittenhouse’s case has sparked many conversations about racial injustice and US gun laws.
Huber’s parents, John Huber and Karen Bloom expressed how heartbroken they were by the court’s decision. “It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.”
Many protesters have expressed their dissatisfaction. They claim that the outcome of the case would have been markedly different if the defendant in question were black.
Justin Blake, the uncle of Jacob Blake, further stated: “You can really smell and see the underlying systemic racism that’s in the judicial system and the policing system.”
In his statement, US 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 urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.”