Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, the prosecutor in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, received criticism for pointing a gun at the jury during his closing statements. Even though the AR-15 was not loaded, he broke gun safety protocols by putting jury members in the potential line of fire, as well as placing his finger on the trigger during an irresponsible reenactment of Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions.
“That is what provokes this entire incident,” Binger said, referring to his action of pointing a gun at the jury. “When the defendant provokes the incident, he loses the right to self-defense. You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create.”
Many commenters on social media were especially irked by Binger’s actions, following the recent news surrounding Alec Baldwin’s gun misfire on the set of the film Rust, which killed a cinematographer.
The jury had also allegedly just seen grisly photos of a man hit by a bullet from an AR-15 automatic rifle, to demonstrate what a person looks like after they are hit with such a bullet.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s attorney, Mark Richards, reportedly told the New York Post that the case “explode[d] in [Binger’s] face.”
The move is yet another apparent blunder by D.A. Thomas Binger, as closing statements wrapped up and the jury recessed to begin deliberations on Tuesday.
“A prosecutor should never handle gun exhibits as if they are in a game or as if the weapon is a toy,” said Andrew C. McCarthy of the National Review. “It lends a disturbing ‘unseriousness’ to the presentation of the case that does not help the government. In a word, it’s idiotic.”
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of killing two men and wounding a third during the violent protests in Kenosha, Wi. in the Summer of 2020 after the police shooting of James Blake.
Out with his AR-15 to allegedly protect a local car dealership from rioters and give out medical aid, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. He also injured Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, who survived.
Rittenhouse and his lawyers have claimed self-defense, since the three men attacked the teenager in the video, while the prosecution argued that the only reason Rittenhouse was there with his automatic rifle was to cause harm.
Judge Bruce Schroeder told the jury that in order for Kyle Rittenhouse to be acquitted claiming self-defense, the jury must believe that he felt threatened and that the amount of force he used was justified.
D.A. Thomas Binger and the presiding judge have had a tense court battle the past two weeks, with his closing statements only provoking his ire even further.
Yelling at the prosecuting lawyer last week, the judge was one of many who have had complaints.
Before the moment that Binger pointed the AR-15 rifle at the jury, Judge Bruce Schroeder threw out a misdemeanor charge of possession of a firearm under the age of 18. The defense argued that there was a law in Wisconsin that had an exemption for the size of the barrel in cases of hunting, and the Judge threw out the charge.
In his closing statements, Binger and assistant D.A. James Kraus attempted to flip the claim of self-defense, arguing that the three men had just as much right to defend themselves as Rittenhouse did.
“You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you are the one creating the danger, when you’re the one provoking other people,” the prosecution argued.
“I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that in this situation the crowd has the right to try to stop an active shooter,” Binger said. “They have a right to protect themselves. The defendant is not the only one in the world who has the right to self-defense.”