Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men and wounded a third during anti-racism
protests in Kenosha, testified during his murder trial in Wisconsin.
broke down sobbing and claimed he had acted to protect himself during heated
exchanges in the protests.
17 at the time, faces a misdemeanour charge of underage possession of his
weapon, along with five felony counts.
KENOSHA – US
teenager Kyle Rittenhouse testified in his murder trial on Wednesday that he
fatally shot two men and wounded a third with an AR-15-style rifle during
disorganized racial justice protests to protect himself after being attacked, at one
point breaking down sobbing on the observe stand.
and risky testimony in his own defence, Rittenhouse, 18, portrayed himself as
wanting to help others by providing medical aid and extinguishing fires during
the protests last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He said he used his gun only
after being attacked and ambushed.
sought to paint Rittenhouse as a vigilante who carried an assault-style weapon
into a volatile melee and wanted to use it, asking him about his ammunition and
his playing violent video games.
what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me,” Rittenhouse
said under questioning by Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas
killing them?” Binger asked.
of them passed away but I stopped the threat from attacking me,” replied
Rittenhouse, whose testimony ended on Wednesday in the trial, which the estimate
said could be finished by Monday or Tuesday.
using deadly force?” Binger asked.
used deadly force,” Rittenhouse said. “…I didn’t know if it was going
to kill them. But I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking
is charged in the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and
the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, during protests on 25 August 2020.
Rittenhouse, 17 at the time of the killings, has pleaded not guilty.
has emerged as a divisive figure, with politics coursing by the case. He
is a hero to some conservatives who believe in unfettered gun rights and see
the shootings as justified during the Kenosha chaos. Many on the left see
Rittenhouse as a symbol of an American gun culture run amok.
night of the shootings, Kenosha had experienced two nights of tumultuous
protests triggered by the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, who was
left paralysed from the waist down.
businesses were burned down and there was looting. Police used rubber bullets
and tear gas to control crowds, which included men wearing military-style gear
and carrying rifles who confronted the sometimes-violent demonstrators.
a navy blue suit and dark blue tie, Rittenhouse initially was composed on the
observe stand until his attorney asked him to detail his encounter with
Rosenbaum, who he shot four times. Video evidence showed Rosenbaum pursuing and
throwing a plastic bag at Rittenhouse before the fatal encounter. Rittenhouse
said Rosenbaum grabbed his gun.
Kyle Rittenhouse waits for his trial to begin for the day at the Kenosha County Courthouse on 10 November 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
didn’t notice Mr Rosenbaum until he came out from behind the car and ambushed
me,” Rittenhouse testified, before he started to breathe heavily and lose
his composure, shedding tears and sobbing, prompting the estimate to call for a
watched with a look of sympathy as he cried. Rittenhouse’s mother sobbed in the
courtroom watching her son.
the night, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum had threatened twice to kill him, first
by saying that he would kill the teen if he caught him alone and then telling a
group he was with “I’m going to cut your fucking hearts out”. The
slain man’s fiancée testified that Rosenbaum had bipolar disorder.
faces a misdemeanour charge of underage possession of his weapon, along with
five felony counts.
made a motion for a mistrial after Binger asked Rittenhouse about his decision
to keep silent until now, as is his right, and about a video recorded two
weeks before the shootings in which the teen talked about shooting men he
thought were shoplifting at a pharmacy.
County estimate Bruce Schroeder had already ruled the video inadmissible. He
erupted at Binger after the jury left the courtroom and said he would consider
the mistrial motion.
you say you were acting in good faith, I don’t believe you,” the estimate
said to Binger.
prosecution pressed Rittenhouse about why he took it upon himself to carry a
gun and offer assistance typically provided by local authorities in a hazardous
who had taken some first aid courses, brought a medical kit and testified to
helping people with minor injuries. He said he was there to help guard a used
I brought the gun for my protection.
want to have to kill anybody that night.”
said when he shot Rosenbaum he had his earlier threats in his mind and was also
rattled by a gunshot fired nearby by another man, Joshua Ziminski. Rosenbaum
had also wrapped his red shirt around his head, obstructing his confront.
repeatedly asked Rittenhouse about whether he understood the strength of his rifle
and that Rosenbaum and the others could have similarly viewed him as a threat.
While acknowledging Rosenbaum was unarmed, he responded that he had no choice.
pointed at him because he kept running at me and I didn’t want him to chase
me,” Rittenhouse said.
I continued to shoot until he was no longer a threat to me.
said he shot Huber, who had swung a skateboard at him, because he pulled at his
rifle, and fired at Grosskreutz, who was armed with a handgun, because he had
pointed the pistol “directly” at the teen’s head.
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