Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted at trial over shootings at 2020 protest

Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted at trial over shootings at 2020 protest

Kenosha, Wes. Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Friday after asserting self-defense in the fatal Kenosha shooting that has become a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilance and racial injustice in the United States.

Rittenhouse, 18, began to choke, fell forward toward the defense table and then hugged one of his attorneys when he heard a court clerk read “not guilty” five times. The deputy mayor pulled him out the back door.

“He wants to get on with his life,” defense attorney Mark Richards said. “He has a great sense of relief at what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this ever happened. But as he said when he testified, he didn’t start it.”

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The verdict in the politically combustible case was met with anger and disappointment from those who saw Rittenhouse as a vigilante vigilante and wishful policeman, and relief and a sense of justification from those who viewed him as a patriot who took a stand against and practiced lawlessness. The Second Amendment has the right to bear arms and defend oneself. His supporters have donated more than $2 million to his legal defense.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, a longtime civil rights leader, said the ruling casts doubt on the safety of people protesting in support of black Americans.

“It seems to me that it is an open season for human rights protesters,” he said.

Rittenhouse is charged with murder, attempted murder and reckless endangerment for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR semi-automatic rifle in the summer of 2020 during a tumultuous night of protests over the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.

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Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old former police student, said he went to Kenosha to protect property from rioters, but was attacked and feared for his life. He is white, like those he shot.

The anonymous jury, whose racial makeup the court did not reveal but appeared to be overwhelmingly white, deliberated nearly 3 and a half days.

President Joe Biden called for calm, saying that while the outcome of the case “will leave many Americans feeling angry and anxious, including myself, we must admit that the jury has spoken.”

Former President Donald Trump, who said at the time of the shooting that Rittenhouse appeared to have been “attacked very violently,” released a statement Friday congratulating Rittenhouse on the verdict, adding, “If it’s not in self-defense, then nothing!”

Rittenhouse would have served life if convicted of the most serious charge, first-degree murder, or what some other states call first-degree murder. Two other counts, each of over 60 years behind bars.

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Michael Gravelli, the Kenosha County District Attorney, said his office respected the jury’s decision, and asked the public to “accept the verdicts peacefully and not resort to violence.”

Before the sentencing, Democratic Governor Tony Evers announced that 500 National Guard personnel are on standby in the event of problems. But hours after the jury returned, there were no signs of any major protests or unrest in Kenosha.

When the jurors were released, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder assured them that the court would take “every measure” to keep them safe.

Wisconsin Lieutenant Mandela Barnes, a black and Democratic candidate for the US Senate, denounced the result. He, like many civil rights activists, has seen racial double standards working on the case.

“Over the past few weeks, many have feared the outcome we just witnessed,” Barnes said. “The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is what we should expect from our justice system, but that standard isn’t always applied equally. We’ve seen far too many black and brown young adults They are killed, only to be brought to trial after his death, while Kyle Rittenhouse’s innocence is a feasible judgement.”

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Other right-wing political figures welcomed the ruling and condemned the case against Rittenhouse.

Mark McCluskey, who got into trouble with the law when he and his wife waved a rifle and pistol at black protesters marching in front of his St. Louis home in 2020, said the ruling shows that people have a right to defend themselves from “a mob.” He is now a Republican candidate for the US Senate in Missouri.

Fifteen minutes after the rulings were passed, the National Rifle Association tweeted the text of the Second Amendment.

The Kenosha case was part of an unusual confluence of trials that reflected the deep division over race in the United States: in Georgia, three white men are on trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, while in Virginia, a trial is taking place in a lawsuit during a deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville in year 2017.

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The bloodshed in Kenosha occurred during a summer of sometimes violent protests, which erupted across the United States through the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other instances of police use of force against blacks.

Rittenhouse went to Kenosha from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, after businesses were looted and burned in the nights following the shooting of Blake. He joined other armed civilians in the streets, carrying a weapon that authorities said was illegally purchased because it was underage.

Bystander and a drone captured most of the frenzied chain of events that followed: Rittenhouse murdered Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, then protester Anthony Hopper, 26, and injured protester Gigi Grosskreutz, now 28.

Prosecutors portrayed Rittenhouse as a “wishful soldier” who went out looking for trouble that night and was responsible for creating a dangerous situation in the first place by aiming his rifle at the protesters.

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But Rittenhouse testified: “I did nothing wrong. I stood up for myself.”

He burst into tears at one point, telling a jury that he opened fire after Rosenbaum chased after him and grabbed his gun. He said he was afraid that his gun would be confiscated and used to kill him.

Hopper was subsequently killed after hitting Rittenhouse in the head or neck with a skateboard, and Grosskreutz was shot after approaching his pistol in hand.

Under questioning by the prosecution, Grosskreutz said he raised his hands when he approached Rittenhouse and did not intend to shoot the young man. Prosecutor Thomas Binger asked Grosskreutz why he didn’t shoot first.

“That’s not the kind of person I am now. That’s not why I’m there,” he said. “Not who I am. And certainly not someone I want to become. “

But during questioning, Rittenhouse’s defense attorney, Cory Chiravese, asked, “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him and walked over to him… he shot, right?”

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“Right,” Grosskreutz replied. The defense also provided a photo showing Grosskreutz aiming the rifle at Rittenhouse, who was on the ground with his rifle pointed at Grosskreutz.

Grosskreutz, under questioning from the attorney general, said he had not intended to point his gun at Rittenhouse.

After the ruling, Hopper’s parents, Karen Bloom and John Hooper, said the result “sends an unacceptable message that armed civilians can appear in any city, incite violence, and then use the danger they create to justify shooting people in the street.”

Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, sat near her son on a bench in the courtroom, panting with joy, crying and embracing the others around her.

Richards, the defense attorney, said Rittenhouse wants to become a nurse and that he advises on PTSD and is likely to move away because it is “too dangerous” for him to continue living in the area.

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Several legal experts said they believed the defense had an advantage due to Rittenhouse’s favorable provisions in Wisconsin’s self-defense law and video showing him being chased at crucial moments. The testimonies of some prosecution witnesses also appear to support his claim of self-defence.

Some witnesses described Rosenbaum as “overly aggressive” and said he dared shoot him and threatened to kill Rittenhouse earlier that night; Others said he acted “aggressively” but did not appear to pose a serious threat. A videographer testified that Rosenbaum lunged at the gun before being shot, and the pathologist said his injuries appeared to indicate that his hand was on top of the barrel.

Rosenbaum’s fiancée also revealed that he was taking medication for bipolar disorder and depression. Rittenhouse’s lawyers called Rosenbaum a “crazy person”.

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Rittenhouse has also been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18, a misdemeanor spending nine months behind bars that appears to result in a conviction.

But the judge dropped that charge before deliberations after the defense argued that Wisconsin law did not apply to the long-barreled rifle Rittenhouse used.

The rulings end the criminal case against Rittenhouse. He faces no federal charges and is unlikely to do so because federal law applies only in very limited cases to murders. No civil lawsuit has been filed against Rittenhouse yet, but there are lawsuits targeting others. Hopper’s father is suing the police and government officials in Kenosha alleging that they allowed a dangerous situation that led to his son’s death. A group of protesters has filed a lawsuit against the city and county of Kenosha alleging that curfews were enforced against them but not against gunmen like Rittenhouse.

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Associated Press writer Tammy Webber contributed from Fenton, Michigan; Aaron Morrison from New York. Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin, and Forleti from Minneapolis.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the Kyle Rittenhouse experience at: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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