Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois resident who traveled to Wisconsin and shot three people during a protest last year, was found not guilty on all charges on Friday.
The 12-person jury deliberated for four days before coming to its decision Friday as protesters both against and in support of Rittenhouse awaited the verdict outside the courthouse. Rittenhouse faced five charges in total, including charges of first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree reckless endangerment.
Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two, during protests that erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, told a jury that he went to the protest armed with an AK-style semi-automatic weapon to protect property from rioters.
Rittenhouse first shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, who was unarmed but chasing Rittenhouse during a confrontation, video played at the trial showed.
Former Marine Jason Lackowski testified during the trial that he was with Rittenhouse earlier that night and was also armed with an AR-15 style rifle, but did not see Rosenbaum as a threat.
Rosenbaum asked Lackowski “very bluntly to shoot him” and did “false stepping … to entice somebody to do something,” Lackowski testified.
“After he had done that a few times, I turned my back to him and ignored him,” Lackowski added.
But Rittenhouse testified that he feared for his life when he shot and killed Rosenbaum.
“He was chasing me. I was alone. He threatened to kill me earlier that night,” Rittenhouse said. “I didn’t want to have to shoot him. I pointed at him because he kept running at me and I didn’t want him to chase me.”
Rittenhouse, who also testified he had also gone to Kenosha to provide medical aid and was carrying a medic bag, did not administer first aid to Rosenbaum after shooting him. Instead of calling 911 as the man lay dying, Rittenhouse phoned a friend, then later took off running from the scene, video evidence played at the trial showed.
Several people attempted to stop Rittenhouse, who testified he was running to find police.
Anthony Huber, 26, hit Rittenhouse with his skateboard in an attempt to stop him. Rittenhouse fired his gun, shooting Huber once in the chest and killing him.
Rittenhouse also shot paramedic Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded. Grosskreutz was also armed with a gun, but he testified that his arms were raised in surrender when Rittenhouse shot him.
Rittenhouse sobbed on the stand last week while testifying about that night.
The trial at times turned tense, with Judge Bruce Schroeder at one point dismissing the jury to angrily shout at prosecutor Thomas Binger for a line of questioning that the judge had previously ruled inadmissible. This led to Rittenhouse’s legal team asking Schroeder to declare a mistrial, which ultimately failed.
Schroeder also questioned basic technology; he was confused by a pinch-to-zoom function presented in evidence and ranted about trouble he apparently routinely encounters with his cellphone. At one point during the trial, Schroeder’s phone began ringing. It played Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” a favorite rally song of former President Donald Trump.
Schroeder also picked a jury in just one day, in what The New York Times described as an “unusually swift process” that resulted in an “overwhelmingly white” jury. Days later, a juror was dismissed after making a racist joke about Blake ― the Black man shot by Kenosha police ― to a deputy.
“Why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake?” the juror asked the deputy. The juror then answered: “Because they ran out of bullets.”
As the jury decision came in, hundreds of National Guard troops were on standby in Kenosha at the request of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D).