Home / World / English News / Kyle Rittenhouse initiated confrontation with 1st man he fatally shot at Kenosha protest, prosecutor argues

Kyle Rittenhouse initiated confrontation with 1st man he fatally shot at Kenosha protest, prosecutor argues

Kyle Rittenhouse initiated confrontation with 1st man he fatally shot at Kenosha protest, prosecutor argues

Infrared FBI surveillance video will show Kyle Rittenhouse initiated a confrontation with one of the two men he later fatally shot during chaotic protests against racial injustice that engulfed a Wisconsin city last year, the lead prosecutor argued Tuesday at the start of the teenager’s murder trial.  

Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with reckless and intentional homicides in the killing of two men and the wounding of a third with an AR-15-style rifle on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 in Kenosha. Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to seven charges overall in what has emerged as the most high-profile civilian self-defence case in the U.S. in nearly a decade

The unrest had been sparked by a white police officer’s shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, just three months after the police killing of George Floyd, another Black man, in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests over racism and police brutality.

Rittenhouse has emerged as a hero to some conservatives who believe in unfettered gun rights and see the shootings as justified during the unrest. Many on the political left have labelled him a vigilante killer, as he travelled over the border from his native Illinois to retrieve a weapon he had a friend purchase for him in Wisconsin earlier in the summer, as he was just 17 at the time of the shooting.

WATCH | At least 2 versions of what transpired during Kenosha protests:

Kyle Rittenhouse becomes poster boy for armed self-defence after Kenosha shooting

Gun-rights and armed-self-defence advocates have turned Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with intentional homicide in the shooting deaths of two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., into their latest poster boy and are raising money for his defence. 2:38

The prosecution, led by Kenosha County assistant district attorney Thomas Binger, described what he said were “two of the roughest nights that our community has ever seen” before the shooting, when Kenosha was rocked by rioting, arson and looting over the police wounding of a Black man.

“We need to keep in mind, there were hundreds of people on the streets that night experiencing the same chaos,” Binger told the court. “But only one person killed anyone that night.”

The prosecution is expected to argue that Rittenhouse was looking for a chance to use his weapon and was the aggressor in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and in the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, who survived.

Binger emphasized in his opening remarks that the first of the men Rittenhouse shot, Joseph Rosenbaum, was killed by a shot to the back. The prosecutor noted that the first two shots hit Rosenbaum in the lower extremities, causing him to fall forward. Then came the shot to the back.

Binger also said that after Rittenhouse initiated the confrontation with Rosenbaum and shot him, he then fled the scene instead of rendering aid, despite portraying himself as a medic earlier in the night.

The others who were shot afterward “clearly believed” Rittenhouse was an active shooter when they tried to stop him, the prosecutor said.

Concept of reasonable force to be debated

Legal experts have said the prosecution faces a tough task, however, in convincing a jury that Rittenhouse did not fear for his life, given video evidence showing all three men were advancing toward him, with two appearing to reach for his weapon and one armed with a pistol, when he fired.

Under Wisconsin law, people can only use deadly force if they “reasonably” believe it necessary to prevent someone from killing or causing great bodily harm to them.

Deciding what is reasonable will fall to a 20-person jury selected on Monday after lawyers and the judge vetted candidates for biases, with many questions focused on their views on the protests and their experiences with guns.

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder criticized the 2020 presidential campaigns of both major parties for their comments on the case. Days after the shootings, President Donald Trump suggested Rittenhouse had acted in self-defence while Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic challenger at the time, accused Trump of stoking violence with his rhetoric.

“This case has become very political,” Schroeder said, urging the jurors to be “fair and impartial” for a trial he has projected will last about two weeks.

The trial is poised to be the biggest U.S. court test of a civilian’s right to self-defence since George Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager.

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Rittenhouse’s lawyers will likely try to portray the men he shot as bad actors involved in lawless behaviour, giving him reason to fear for his safety. They may highlight the expected testimony of a reporter named Richard McGinnis, who told police that Rosenbaum tried to grab the barrel of Rittenhouse’s rifle before the teenager shot him.

They are also expected to stress audio and video evidence of protesters yelling things like “Get his ass!” as Rittenhouse stumbled and fell to the ground before shooting Huber, who swung a skateboard at him, and Grosskreutz, who was holding a pistol.

The 20-member jury will be composed of 11 women and nine men. The group will be cut to 12 for final deliberations.

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