KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — An Illinois man who shot three people at a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year was justified as men confronted him and tried to take away his gun, a cop said. A use-forces expert testified Tuesday.
The expert, John Black, spent hours during a pre-trial hearing outlining the moments that led Kyle Rittenhouse’s decision to shoot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gage Grosskretz when Rittenhouse’s trial begins next month. A preview of the defense team’s strategy was presented when Black testified that the video shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse and reaching for the teenager’s gun, Huber attacking Rittenhouse with a skateboard and trying to take away his gun, and Grosskretz with a handgun in his hand. were running at him with a pistol.
“A civilian in that situation, given those indicators, would it be reasonable for them to believe that they were about to be attacked?” Black said. “Yes, I would argue.”
Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he made the short trip to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, on the night of August 25, 2020, in response to a call from the Kenosha militia to help protect businesses from protesters. A white police officer’s decision to shoot a black man, Jacob Blake, during a domestic unrest, led to several nights of chaotic demonstrations in the city. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
Shortly before midnight, Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle in the parking lot of a used car dealership, killing him. Moments later, he shot Huber in the street, killing him as well. He shot Grosskretz seconds after he shot Huber, wounding him in the arm.
Prosecutors have charged Rittenhouse with multiple counts, including murder, attempted murder and being a minor in possession of a firearm. Rittenhouse’s lawyers say he fired in self-defense. His trial is scheduled to begin on November 1.
Rittenhouse’s lead attorney, Mark Richards, is trying to persuade Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to allow Black to testify at trial. Schroeder allowed Black to speak at the hearing via Zoom in hopes it would help him make a decision.
Black testified that he studied bystander videos extensively of the three shootings. He noted that Rosenbaum was following Rittenhouse and threw a plastic bag at him before reaching Rittenhouse’s rifle.
“Now the shotgun is a potential weapon for both sides,” Black said. “Now we have a potential wrestling match.”
Bystander video showed that after Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum, he ran across the street. At one point he stumbled and a man came out of the crowd and kicked him in the face, Black said. Rittenhouse fired at the man but missed.
A moment later Huber hit Rittenhouse in the neck with a skateboard and tried to grab Rittenhouse’s rifle, causing Rittenhouse to shoot him, Black said. Grosskretz approached in an “I surrender” motion by raising his hands but holding a handcuff in his right hand. He backed up and lowered the pistol before proceeding. Rittenhouse then shot him in the arm.
Black said that Rittenhouse maintained control of his rifle the entire time and did not randomly fire bullets at the crowd, even though he said many were armed with wooden objects such as baseball bats.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger attempted to indict Black by stating that he was an expert in the use of force by police, not civilians. He also questioned whether Rittenhouse would have been justified in using lethal force if he did not have a gun.
Black replied that he taught civilian self-defense courses and that Binger was projecting a hypothetical situation. But if Rittenhouse had not been armed with a gun, he might not have been justified in using lethal force, Black said.
Schroeder held off on deciding whether Black could testify at trial until he heard the testimony of a prosecution expert on the use of force. He scheduled an October 25 hearing for that testimony.
The judge began the hearing by dismissing the defense’s request to drop the weapon-possession charge against Rittenhouse. Wisconsin law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from being armed, but Rittenhouse’s lawyers argued that the statutes actually bar minors from carrying only short-barrel rifles and shotguns. The only other restrictions on minors possessing firearms are contained in hunting statutes, and he says that children under the age of 12 cannot hunt with firearms, he said.
Schroeder said he may revisit the question later because the laws are unclear.
He also rejected the prosecution’s request to prohibit the media from broadcasting or publishing images of witnesses’ faces during the trial. The prosecutor told the judge that some witnesses fear for their safety as it is such a high-profile and contentious case.
Richards said he did not know which witnesses Binger was referring to, but he did say a prosecution witness claimed to have been summoned in the case on his social media accounts.
Schroeder said he is not sure he has the authority to censor the media. He said he has presided over other cases he described as more “tense” than the Rittenhouse proceedings.
Many conservatives have flocked to support Rittenhouse, calling him a patriot for demanding a halt to violent protests, making him a symbol of gun rights and Raised $2 million for his bail. Others, including some liberals and activists portraying him as a domestic terrorist And says he made a volatile situation worse by bringing a rifle to the streets of Kenosha.
Both prosecutors and defense have asked Schroeder permission to send questionnaires to potential jurors to ascertain bias, but Schroeder denied the requests last month, saying he feared most people would not fill them out and that the recipient’s family and Will discuss the matter with friends. and form opinions.
Richmond reported from Madison.