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Kenosha unrest shooting

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Kenosha unrest shooting
Part of Kenosha unrest
LocationKenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Coordinates42°34′49″N 87°49′17″W / 42.58028°N 87.82139°W / 42.58028; -87.82139Coordinates: 42°34′49″N 87°49′17″W / 42.58028°N 87.82139°W / 42.58028; -87.82139
DateAugust 25, 2020
11:48 – 11:49 p.m. (CDT)
WeaponsAR-15 style rifle
Deaths2
Injured1
AccusedKyle Rittenhouse
VerdictOngoing trial

On August 25, 2020, amid the Kenosha unrest, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, shot three protesters during multiple confrontations at two locations.[1][2] He was armed, allegedly illegally, with an AR-15 style rifle[3] and one of the victims appeared to be carrying a handgun.[4] The protesters had been chasing him and were physically confronting Rittenhouse at the time that they were shot.[5][6] Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber, 26, were killed,[7] while West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, was injured.[8] Two other protesters also physically confronted Rittenhouse, and he either did not shoot at them, or missed.[1][5][6]

Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with multiple counts of homicide and unlawful possession of a firearm, while Dominick Black was arrested and charged with unlawfully supplying Rittenhouse's rifle.[9] Rittenhouse's attorneys claim he acted in self-defense upon hearing firearm discharge and in response to the numerous physical confrontations by protesters.[1]

Background

Context behind the shooting

On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake, an African-American man, was shot four times in the back by a Kenosha police officer after he was unsuccessfully tasered.[10][11][12] Blake was shot after he opened the door to his SUV, while leaning into the vehicle.[13] He is expected to survive, but is paralyzed from the waist down.[14][15] The police shooting was followed by protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has seen a resurgence in the wake of several other high-profile killings by police officers in 2020. The Kenosha protests included rallies, marches, property damage, arson, and clashes with police.[16]

In response to the George Floyd protests, which precipitated the Kenosha protests, former Kenosha alderman Kevin Mathewson announced the formation of a militia group he called the Kenosha Guard. On August 25, he put out a call on Facebook for "patriots willing to take up arms and defend" Kenosha, which received a heavy online response.[17] Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and County Sheriff David Beth expressed their disapproval of armed civilians patrolling the streets,[18] while police officers were seen in a video giving them water and being heard saying, "We appreciate you guys, we really do."[19] Sheriff Beth later said that ahead of Tuesday night's protests, a group of armed individuals had asked him to deputize them so they could patrol the city of Kenosha, which he refused. He said he did not know if Rittenhouse had been part of the group, but the possibility of an incident occurring was why he had refused the request.[20]

Kyle Rittenhouse

Kyle Rittenhouse has been described as having participated in local police cadet programs and expressing support on social media for the Blue Lives Matter movement and law enforcement.[21][3][22]

In the hours leading up to the shooting, Rittenhouse appeared in multiple videos by protesters and bystanders, including in two interviews: One by a livestreamer at a car dealership where he and a number of other armed men had stationed themselves, the other by Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinniss.[5] Some of the men were affiliated with the Kenosha Guard,[23] but it denied any affiliation with Rittenhouse and its leader said he never met or communicated with him.[24]

Rittenhouse was seen talking with police officers,[5][25] as well as offering medical aid to those who were injured.[26][27]

According to his attorneys, after he had heard about a local business owner who wanted help defending his car dealership, he and his friend Dominick David Black "armed themselves with rifles" and went to that business.[28] The dealership had suffered $1.5 million in arson damage the previous night.[29][30] When McGinniss asked Rittenhouse why he was at the car dealership, he responded: "So, people are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business. Part of my job is also to help people. If there is somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle, because I have to protect myself, obviously. I also have my med kit." At some point, Rittenhouse left the dealership and was prevented by police from returning.[5] The dealership subsequently suffered a further $1 million in arson damage.[29][30]

Details

The location at 60th and Sheridan where shooting victim Anthony Huber died

Events leading up to the shooting

The five confrontations and subsequent shooting took place shortly before midnight on August 25, 2020, along Sheridan Road, Kenosha, where protesters went after clashes with law enforcement and being expelled from Civic Center Park.[4]

Protesters were recorded on video pushing a dumpster, lit on fire, through a crowd and towards a gas station. A guard, dressed in similar clothing to Rittenhouse – a green shirt, cap, and bag – put out the dumpster fire, which enraged Rosenbaum, who shouted verbal abuse at the guard. More arson takes place and is recorded on video. Someone with identical features to Rittenhouse – having the same build, clothing, and rifle; and also wearing brown shoes, blue gloves, and an orange medical kit – is then seen running with a fire extinguisher. According to Rittenhouse's defense attorneys, the person with the fire extinguisher was indeed Rittenhouse, and what was not recorded on video was that he used it to put out one of the fires, which provoked a confrontation from Rosenbaum, who mistook Rittenhouse for the guard who had put out the dumpster fire earlier.[31][32]

First major confrontation

The beginning of the first confrontation between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum was witnessed by Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinniss. According to McGinnis, it seemed that Rosenbaum and other protesters were moving toward Rittenhouse, who was trying to evade them; Rosenbaum then tried to "engage" Rittenhouse, but Rittenhouse managed to avoid this by sidestepping and running away.[33][34]

The remainder of Rosenbaum's confrontation, and the following incidents with Huber and Grosskreutz, were recorded in cellphone footage from multiple angles, including the moments of the shooting.[6] Video footage showed Rittenhouse being pursued across a parking lot by Rosenbaum,[5] who threw something in Rittenhouse's direction,[35][34] identified as a plastic bag.[33] As Rittenhouse was running from Rosenbaum, two shots can be heard, one from an unknown third party, fired for an unknown reason, and one from Joshua Ziminski, who fired a self-described "warning shot" into the air,[36] causing Rittenhouse to stop running and turn towards the sound of Ziminski's shot.[5] On-the-scene reporter Richie McGinniss has since stated that the sound of the shot was the moment Rittenhouse “went from running away to aiming his weapon”.[36] Then, according to Kenosha County prosecutors, Rosenbaum managed to engage Rittenhouse and tried to take his rifle from him.[37][38][39] Rittenhouse then fired four shots, hitting Rosenbaum in the groin, back, and left hand. The bullets fractured Rosenbaum's pelvis, perforated his right lung and liver,[40] and caused additional minor wounds to his left thigh and forehead.[40] Rittenhouse remained near the fatally wounded Rosenbaum as McGinnis began administering first aid. Rittenhouse then made a phone call and was heard saying "I just killed somebody," and then fled as more protesters arrived.[39]

Second major confrontation

Video from another angle then showed Rittenhouse being chased down the street by several protesters, one of whom strikes him from behind in the head, knocking off his cap,[41] shortly after which Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground.[42] According to the criminal complaint, at that point, protesters are heard yelling "Beat him up!", "Get him! Get that dude!", and "Get his ass".[33] One of the men who had been chasing him jumped and kicked Rittenhouse while he was still on the ground – Rittenhouse fired twice but missed the man.

Next, according to court records and video footage, another protester, Anthony Huber, "made contact" with Rittenhouse's left shoulder with a skateboard as they struggled for control of the gun.[43][44][45][40] As Huber was pulling on the rifle, Rittenhouse fired once, hitting Huber in the chest, perforating his heart and right lung, leading to rapid death.[33][46]

Third major confrontation and Rittenhouse's departure

Gaige Grosskreutz approached Rittenhouse while he was still on the ground but stopped and put his hands up when Huber was shot. According to a complaint filed by the Kenosha County Clerk of Courts, Grosskreutz appeared to have a handgun.[47] When Grosskreutz moved again towards Rittenhouse, Rittenhouse shot Grosskreutz in the arm, severing most of his bicep.[48][49][50]

At least 16 gunshots from other sources can be heard during the time that Rittenhouse was on the ground.[5]

Rittenhouse subsequently got back to his feet and walked towards police with his hands up and the Smith & Wesson M&P AR-15 rifle strapped across his chest;[51] they allowed him to leave or appeared not to acknowledge him, though several witnesses and other protesters shouted for him to be arrested.[6][52] When asked at a press conference why Rittenhouse was not stopped, Kenosha Sheriff David Beth said, "In situations that are high-stress, you have such incredible tunnel vision" and implied officers may not have realized he had been involved in the shooting.[53] Likewise, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis claimed that "there was nothing to suggest this individual was involved in any criminal behavior" due to the fact that someone walking towards the police with their hands up was "no longer abnormal" in the wake of the protests.[54]

Investigation and legal proceedings

On August 26, Rittenhouse turned himself in on charges of first-degree intentional homicide in his home state of Illinois.[55] He was labeled a "fugitive from justice" in the criminal complaint, which alleged that he "fled the state of Wisconsin with intent to avoid prosecution for that offense." He was assigned a public defender and initially scheduled to appear at an extradition hearing on August 28.[56] On that day, a judge granted a request to delay the hearing until September 25 so that Rittenhouse could obtain his own counsel.[2] Under Wisconsin state law,[22] he will be charged as an adult.[57] While awaiting extradition Rittenhouse is being held in a juvenile facility in Illinois.[58]

The complaint against Rittenhouse lists six charges: first-degree reckless homicide against Joseph Rosenbaum, first-degree recklessly endangering safety against Richard McGinnis (a reporter who interviewed Rittenhouse before the shooting),[59] first-degree intentional homicide against Anthony Huber, attempted first-degree intentional homicide against Gaige Grosskreutz, first-degree recklessly endangering safety against an unknown male victim, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 (the only misdemeanor charge, the others are felonies).[60][61][62] Each felony charge comes with a "use of a dangerous weapon" modifier,[60] which invokes a Wisconsin law that prescribes an addition of no more than five years of imprisonment for each of the charges if found guilty.[63] According to the prosecutors, the gun was "later recovered by law enforcement and identified as a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle".[60] In a jailhouse interview with The Washington Post, Rittenhouse said he cashed a coronavirus stimulus check to purchase the AR-15 rifle.[64][65]

Attorney L. Lin Wood and the law firm Pierce Bainbridge are representing Rittenhouse.[66] On August 29, 2020, the legal team for Rittenhouse released a statement asserting that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense[33] and was wrongly arrested.[67] On September 22, Rittenhouse's defense team released an 11-minute narrated video of the night, consisting of quick cuts between various angles. The video contends that several shots were fired before and after the shooting of Rosenbaum, and that Rosenbaum may have started chasing Rittenhouse because he mistook him for a man with whom he had a dispute earlier.[31]

On September 30, Rittenhouse's attorney said he will sue Joe Biden for slander over an ad he says prejudiced Kyle's legal rights.[68]

On October 30, an Illinois court ruled that the extradition request was valid, and Rittenhouse was transported to Wisconsin on the same day.[69][70]

In November, 19-year-old Dominick David Black was charged with two felony counts of intentionally selling a rifle to Rittenhouse, who is a minor. Black made his first court appearance on November 9 in Kenosha County Circuit Court, where bond was set at $2,500.[71]

Release on bail

A man holds a "Free Kyle" sign near Bradford High School during President Donald Trump's visit on September 1, 2020

Rittenhouse was released from jail on November 20, after his attorneys posted $2 million bail.[72][73] His release came over the objections of family members and lawyers for two of the men he shot, who had asked for higher bail and expressed concerns that Rittenhouse may flee, which his lawyers assured would not occur.[74]

Responses

Public sentiment regarding the shootings was polarized. The Guardian characterized the shooter as among "white armed extremists"[75] and Facebook labelled the incident as a "mass murder" and banned all expressions of support for Rittenhouse.[76][77] However, other commentators defended his actions. Fox News host Tucker Carlson blamed authorities for failing to stop looting and arson, and added, "How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?"[78][79] His comments were met with backlash on social media.[80] Conservative pundit Ann Coulter and retired baseball player Aubrey Huff also praised Rittenhouse.[81][82][83] Meanwhile, other coverage has been critical of Rittenhouse's actions and used terms such as "vigilante" and "terrorist" to describe him.[84] Commentators were critical of the fact that Rittenhouse was not immediately arrested despite witnesses shouting that he was the shooter.[85][6][86]

President Trump "liked" a tweet that included "Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump."[87][88][89] In public comments, Trump showed some support for the contention that Rittenhouse was legitimately acting in self-defense.[90][91][92]

Other media sources pointed out the Second Amendment issues embedded in the case. NBC News reported that Rittenhouse's attorney intends to argue that the firearms possession charge is unconstitutional because there is historic precedent for firearms possession by minors (which was at times permitted or mandated by some colonies) and that, at age 17, Rittenhouse should qualify to serve as a member of the well-regulated militia which is deemed "necessary to the security of a free State" under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[93] Additional legal considerations pointed out by Bloomberg include Wisconsin's self-defense law, which states that "you can use deadly force in self-defense if you reasonably believe it’s necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or others," and Wisconsin's statute does not include a "duty to retreat" before acting, but juries may take into consideration whether an option to retreat existed.[94]

National Guard troops at Bradford High School on September 1, 2020

On August 26, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for the resignations of Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and of Kenosha Sheriff David Beth. The ACLU statement claimed that Sheriff Beth's deputies fraternized with "white supremacist counter-protesters" during the day of the shooting and did not arrest the shooter. The statement attacked Miskinis for blaming the victims in the shooting, when he said that the violence was the result of the “persons” involved violating curfew.[95] The Kenosha mayor stated that he would not ask the sheriff or police chief to resign.[96]

As of September 29, the Christian crowdfunding website "GiveSendGo" had raised (in the same sense as GoFundMe) over $522,000 to help pay Rittenhouse's legal fees.[97] As of November 17, this funding had reached over $573,000.[98]

On October 1, NBC News obtained a Department of Homeland Security internal document and reported that it directed federal law enforcement officials to make "neutral" statements regarding Rittenhouse, such as "[Rittenhouse] is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial based on all the facts, not just the ones that support a certain narrative".[99]

In November 2020, shortly after Rittenhouse was released on bail, Florida state representative Anthony Sabatini tweeted "KYLE RITTENHOUSE FOR CONGRESS." Sabatini was widely criticized by political opponents for the tweet with some urging him to resign.[100][101][102]

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