The jury in Wisconsin reached a highly controversial decision, reading their Kyle Rittenhouse verdict of “not guilty” on Friday. Acquitted of all five charges, Kyle Rittenhouse was found to have acted in self-defense during the violent encounter in Kenosha, Wi. that killed two people and injured a third.
Deliberations for the mostly white jury lasted four days, ending on Friday when the surprising verdict was reached. Gaining national attention due to issues surrounding race and gun rights, the shocking trial came to an end as Kyle Rittenhouse broke down crying, thanking his lawyers.
Charged last summer in the violent protest following the police shooting of James Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse was accused in the murder of two protesters, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, as well as attempted murder of a third protester, Gaige Grosskreutz.
He was acquitted of all five charges, including reckless homicide, intentional homicide, and attempted intentional homicide. Other charges, such as illegal possession of a firearm as a minor – Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the incident – were previously thrown out by the presiding judge.
The prosecuting attorney, Thomas Binger, came head to head with Judge Bruce Schroeder multiple times over the trial, with many critics arguing that he bungled the case. Over the course of the trial, he questioned Rittenhouse’s right to remain silent following the attack, made multiple mentions of a video that was barred from discussion, and broke safety protocol by pointing a gun at the jury.
Conversely, others claim that the 75-year-old judge had pro-defense bias before the case even started. He proclaimed that the protesters could not be referred to as “victims” over the course of the trial, but instead “rioters” or “looters,” if the defense could prove their actions.
Judge Bruce Schroeder early in the trial also told everyone to leave the courtroom while he reprimanded the prosecution for their questionable cross-examination of the defendant after he took the stand to share his side of the story.
While the prosecution tried to prove that Kyle Rittenhouse had gone to the protest armed with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with the intention to cause harm and hurt protesters, the defense team argued that he acted in self-defense by protecting stores and only firing after he was attacked.
The prosecution unsuccessfully tried to offer the rebuttal that he was only attacked because the unarmed protesters viewed him as an active shooter in the area.
According to court documents, Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum four times after he chased him, killing him. Anthony Huber then attacked Rittenhouse with his skateboard after he fell on the ground, and the teenager shot and killed him once, in the chest. When Gaige Grosskreutz, who was filming the event, approached him pistol drawn, Rittenhouse shot him once in the arm, but he survived.
“I didn’t know if it was going to kill them,” Kyle Rittenhouse said in his testimony. “But I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me.”
According to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, 500 national guard members were deployed to prevent protests in the wake of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.
“We stand ready to support our communities during times of need,” said Major General Paul Knapp. “In close coordination with the governor, we have assembled approximately 500 Soldiers to help keep the Kenosha community safe, should a request from our local partners come in.”
Governor Evers asked residents to avoid the area and stay home following the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, hoping to avoid the violence that brought the trial to court.
Evers said that in response to the use of tear gas and the shooting of James Blake last summer, the officers deployed today should there be a protest, would act in “limited mobilization” to protect local businesses and fire stations.