Today, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on the four remaining charges against him by a jury of his peers. This will be quite a shock to those who believe their ideology of emotions about Rittenhouse ought to be considered the same as evidence in a court of law, but for the rest of us, the acquittal was not a shock. The real victory though in this verdict was won by legal Self-Defense.
Rittenhouse’s attackers(they were not “victims”) were all killed or shot while attempting felony aggravated battery on Rittenhouse who’s armed presence in Kenosha Wisconsin that night was not an illegal or act of provocation under the laws in that state. He broke no laws by being on private property with a rifle. The first actual crime that seems to have been committed was when his first attacker tried to illegally, and forcibly disarm Rittenhouse by seizing the barrel of his rifle and trying to take it from him. In that struggle, Joseph Rosenbaum was shot and killed. It is important to note that the attacker was actually Rosenbaum who first yelled threats at Rittenhouse, then chased him down, then threw a bag full of trash at him, and finally, lunged at him, seized his rifle, and attempted to take it for himself. A reasonably thinking person in that same situation would perceive that Rosenbaum by his words and actions posed a credible threat to Rittenhouse that required the use of deadly force to end it.
Rittenhouse then left the scene in order to reach the police and found himself pursued by members of a riotous mob who were the actual provocateurs of violence that night in Kenosha. When they caught up to him, they made a real attempt to kill him or cause him serious bodily injury. His first assailant attempted to deliver a flying kick to the head of Rittenhouse while he was on the ground, a blow that could easily have been fatal. Then his second assailant strike him in the head with a skateboard wielded as a club, a blow that could have also been fatal to him. Finally, his third assailant drew a handgun and Rittenhouse shot him in the upper arm when he attempted to bring that firearm to bear on Rittenhouse.
That weakness of the prosecution’s case became self-evident during the trial. During the trial, prosecutor and Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger found himself numerous times on the receiving end of angry rebukes by Judge Bruce Schroeder, for introducing barred evidence, improper lines of questioning, and finally, violating Rittenhouse’s civil rights when he claimed the silence of Rittenhouse after arrest, meant he was guilty. This conduct by the prosecution included withholding evidence as well. high-resolution Drone footage used by the State to forward its primary claim that Rittenhouse himself provoked the violence was turned over to the defense lawyers altered to reduce its viewing size and resolution. We also know now that binger attempted to stubborn perjury in a witness by trying to get him to claim that the
Rittenhouse’s civil rights were violated when the prosecution made the claim that his silence after being taken into custody by police spoke to his being guilty. The right to remain silent is a foundational part of the civil rights of any person taken into custody by the police and prosecutors know that suggesting that only guilty people remain silent is a gross violation of a defendant’s right to a fair trial. It’s so serious that if Rittenhouse had been convicted on any count, this blatant violation of his civil rights would have granted him a new trial at minimum or resulted in the guilty verdict being thrown out altogether on appeal.
This misconduct seems to have been extended to witnesses for the prosecution as well. Gaige Grosskreutz, who was shot by Rittenhouse testified on the stand that Rittenhouse did not shoot at him with his hands raised about five feet away, but that Rittenhouse only shot him when he drew out his pistol and pointed it at the teenager while moving towards him. Grosskreutz is a convicted felon and cannot legally possess a firearm in that state. He has yet to be charged with this offense. Four months after his shooting Grosskreutz was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Just days before the trial and his testimony, these charges against him were dropped by the prosecutor’s office.
Nathan DeBruin is a freelance photographer who was covering the racial justice protests, while appearing as a witness for the defense he testified that prosecutor Binger attempted to pressure him into changing his witness statement in another case against a man named Joshua Ziminski, who is charged with several crimes including arson during the Kenosha riots. DeBruin claims that Binger wanted him to identify Ziminski from a photograph which DeBruin said he could not truthfully do. Binger then showed him a photo of Ziminki, told him who he was and then asked if he could now identify the man from the photo just shown to him. When DeBruin said he now knew who Ziminski was from that photo, Binger asked him again if he wanted to change his police statement in a way that would identify Ziminski by name. DeBruin declined to do so. This is called suborning perjury in a witness and is a felony for anyone who attempts it. DeBruin was so rattled by this encounter that he hired his own lawyer to represent him in future dealings with the prosecutor’s office.
Given the weakness of the case against Rittenhouse the prosecution strategy centered on painting Rittenhouse as a dangerous white supremacist, chaos tourist there to cause trouble himself to the rioters who the prosecution bizarrely tried to paint as victims and protestors. It also attacked the very notion of self-defense being legal unless one can show serious bodily injury prior to acting in self-defense. Here is co-prosecutor Kraus during his closing arguments,
“Everybody takes a beating sometimes,”
“Sometimes you get in a scuffle and you do get hurt a little bit. That doesn’t mean you get to start plugging people with your full metal jacket AR-15 rounds.”
Thankfully the law of self-defense does not require the victim of an attack to present a fractured skull, a stab wound, or a gunshot wound to justify defending themselves. Any law which required you have to take “a beating” from an attacker waiting for the incapacitating or fatal blow to fall before you may defend yourself would be insane. It would favor the physically able over the physically weak, it’s the same law that governs animals in the wild, where the Strong prey upon the Weak.
This case is reminiscent of the George Zimmerman case in the shooting of Trevon Martin in 2012. That case was also brought under intense political pressure to send Zimmerman to prison or to death row. Zimmerman spent two years on trial for his life and a jury came to the exact same conclusion that the Sanford Police Department had come to in not pressing charges originally. Trevon Martin was the attacker and was beating Zimmerman’s head into the pavement with the risk of great bodily harm or death when he was shot a single time by his victim.
Following this trial, Florida actually changed its laws requiring the State to prove that a defendant did not act in self-defense rather than the reverse, the automatic arrest, and trial of any person who acts in self-defense who must then prove they acted lawfully.
Critics claim that Rittenhouse should have known there would be rioting and violence in Kenosha that night and never should have gone there, which begs the question; If the local government in Kenosha and the Governor in Madison didn’t realize these protests would become two days of violent riots, how can anyone expect a teenager to know it? It may not have been good judgment for Rittenhouse to go there that night, but faulty judgment isn’t a crime, nor is a citizen acting to protect lives and property, especially when the appointed legal authorities utterly fail to.
It would be wrong to see Rittenhouse as a hero. He did not shoot three people who were trying to burn down a kindergarten full of children, he was simply defending himself from attackers during an unlawful riot. The taking of human life is no small thing and Rittenhouse will likely be scarred by the deaths of the three lives he took (even lawfully) for the rest of his life.
His trial threatened to turn the Natural Right right of self-defense on its head in trying to appease a baying mob outside the courthouse. The courage of the jury in ignoring threats and attempts at intimidation in reaching not guilty verdicts according to law and evidence is most commendable.