Kyle Rittenhouse cleared of all charges in Kenosha shooting


KENOSHA, Wisconsin – Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges on Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootout that became a flashpoint in the national guns, self-defense and racial injustice.

Rittenhouse, 18, cried and hugged one of his lawyers when he heard the verdict.

He had been charged with manslaughter, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment after killing two men and injuring a third with an AR-type semi-automatic rifle on a tumultuous night of protests against police violence against blacks in the summer of 2020. The former youth police officer is white, just like those he shot.

The jury, which appeared to be predominantly white, deliberated for nearly three and a half days.

Rittenhouse could have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the more serious charge, first degree intentional homicide or what some other states call first degree murder.

As the verdict drew near, Governor Tony Evers pleaded for calm and said 500 National Guard members would be ready to take up their service in Kenosha if necessary.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he moved from his Antioch, Ill., Home to Kenosha after businesses in the town were ransacked and burned down in the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white policeman.

Carrying a weapon that authorities say was purchased illegally for miner Rittenhouse, he joined other armed citizens in what he said was an effort to protect property and provide medical assistance.

Onlookers and drone footage captured most of the frenzied chain of events that followed: Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, then gunned down protester Anthony Huber, 26, and injured protester Gaige Grosskreutz, today 28 years old.

Prosecutors described Rittenhouse as an “aspiring soldier” who had gone looking for trouble that night and was responsible for creating a dangerous situation by pointing his rifle at protesters.

But Rittenhouse testified, “I didn’t do anything wrong. I stood up for myself.”

Breaking down sobs at one point, he told the jury that he opened fire after Rosenbaum chased him and grabbed his gun. He said he feared his rifle would be pulled out and used to kill him.

Huber was later killed after hitting Rittenhouse in the head or neck with a skateboard, and Grosskreutz was shot dead after pointing his gun at Rittenhouse.

The case was part of an extraordinary confluence of trials that reflected the deep racial divide in the United States: in Georgia, three white men are on trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, while in Virginia, a trial is pending. in a lawsuit regarding the murderous rally of white supremacists held in Charlottesville in 2017.

The exact racial makeup of Rittenhouse’s jury was unclear as jurors were not asked about their race in court.

The bloodshed in Kenosha took place over a summer of sometimes violent protests sparked across the United States by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other cases involving the use of force by police against blacks.

While some Americans condemned Rittenhouse as a vigilante, some on the right hailed him as a hero who exercised his Second Amendment gun rights and tried to end lawlessness.

Then-President Donald Trump said it appeared Rittenhouse had been “attacked very violently”. Supporters donated more than $ 2 million for his legal defense.

Rittenhouse had also been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by someone under the age of 18, a misdemeanor which appeared likely to lead to a conviction. But Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charge before jury deliberations after the defense argued Wisconsin law did not apply to the long barreled rifle used by Rittenhouse.

Schroeder’s handling of the trial has attracted attention on several occasions, most notably when he applauded the veterans on Veterans Day just before a defense witness who had been in the military came on. the point of testifying. The judge also let Rittenhouse himself pull the jurors’ numbers from a raffle drum to define the last 12 who deliberated.

Video and testimony from some of the prosecution’s own witnesses appeared to support Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense.

Witnesses described Rosenbaum as “hyperaggressive” and said he dared others to shoot him and threatened to kill Rittenhouse earlier that night. A videographer testified that Rosenbaum rushed for the gun just before it was shot, and a pathologist said his injuries seemed to indicate his hand was above the barrel.

Additionally, Rosenbaum’s fiancee revealed he was on medication for bipolar disorder and depression. Rittenhouse’s lawyers called Rosenbaum “crazy.”

Some civil rights activists saw a double racial standard in the way the white shooter was treated.

On the night of the shooting, law enforcement officers saw Rittenhouse and other armed people in the streets despite a curfew and gave them bottled water. An officer heard over the loudspeaker, “We appreciate you guys.”

Later, amid the uproar, Rittenhouse managed to cross a police line with his gun slung and was not arrested that night.

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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