Kyle Rittenhouse Trial


Ellie Bonnette, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Recently, Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal after fatally shooting two during the Kenosha riots has been flooding news headlines across the nation. While it is surely important to educate yourself regarding this case, unfortunately, the internet contains many different narratives and it can be difficult to locate the facts in order to form an opinion of this tricky situation. 

On November 19th, 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges after fatally killing two and injuring one during the Kenosha, Wisconsin riots in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Kyle Rittenhouse lives in Antioch, Illinois, just across the state line from Kenosha. According to AP, in August 2020, two days after the shooting of Jacob Blake, “Rittenhouse went to downtown Kenosha and volunteered to clean graffiti off a high school. He met the owners of a car dealership where vehicles had been burned, offered his ‘condolences,’ and said he wanted to help. He said the owners asked his friend to protect their business, and that he joined his friend and others that night. He took his semi-automatic rifle and first-aid supplies. He gave his bulletproof vest — which he said was issued by the Grayslake Police Department — to a friend. He said he felt he wouldn’t need it ‘because I’m going to be helping people.’”

Joseph Rosenbaum was the first person Rittenhouse shot. After having just been released from a hospital due to a suicide attempt, 36-year-old Rosenbaum hit the streets of Kenosha. Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum crossed paths in the car lot and Rosenbaum threatened him by saying, “I’m going to cut your (expletive) hearts out and kill you.” Rosenbaum continued to chase Rittenhouse, and Rosenbaum threw a bag of toiletires at him, but Rittenhouse mistaked that for a chain that he was carrying. Rittenhouse also claims that he was reaching for his rifle and “he was going to kill me if he got me alone. I was alone. I was running from him. I pointed it at him, and it didn’t stop him from continuing to chase me.” That is when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum four times. After this incident, Rittenhouse ran to the police but as he was running, a group of protesters began chasing him, and among those were Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, then 26. Visual evidence confirms that Huber struck him with a skateboard and Grosskreutz unintentionally pointed his Glock pistol at Rittenhouse. On the witness stand, Grosskreutz was asked about what was going on in his mind and he replied with, “That I was going to die.” 

Rittenhouse returned to his home in Illinois, and the following morning was arrested and held in a juvenile detention facility in Lake County, Ill. On January 5th, he plead not guilty and was eventually found not guilty of the following charges: First-Degree Intentional Homocide, Attempted First-Degree Intentional Homocide, First-Degree Reckless Homocide, First-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety (twice), and Posession of a Dangerous Weapon by a Person Under 18. Then, on November 1st, after 87 days in jail, the trial began. 20 jurors were swiftly selected at the Kenosha County Courthouse. According to New York Times, “Judge Bruce Schroeder of Kenosha County Circuit Court summoned 150 potential jurors, a higher number than is typical, given the media attention that Mr. Rittenhouse’s case has received.”

A common question when considering the Rittenhouse case is, “Since he was a minor, shouldn’t he have been prosecuted as a minor in possession of a firearm?” On Monday, hours before closing arguments, Judge Bruce Schroeder granted a defense motion to toss out the weapons charge. Rittenhouse’s attorneys “pointed to an exception in the law that they said 

allows minors to possess shotguns and rifles as long as they’re not short-barreled,” states AP. Therefore, Judge Schrodere dismissed the charge since Rittenhouse’s rifle’s barrel was longer than 16 inches, the minimum barrel length allowed under state law.

While Rittenhouse was found not guilty, civil lawsuits could be coming. 

NPR explains how, “Rittenhouse could still be sued for damages in a civil trial, where the burden of proof is lower than in criminal trials.” 

The complexity of this case has resulted in varying opinions and emotions for all Americans. This occurrence involves some of the most controversial topics in our country such as 2nd Amendment rights, self-defense, violence at racial justice protests, and potential white privilege is seen by some due to a corrupt criminal justice system.