Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty On All Counts
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Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty On All Counts

Topline

Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all five counts on Friday for fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during a tense protest last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in a case that polarized many Americans, with some on the right casting Rittenhouse as righteous while others on the left have portrayed him as a violent vigilante.

Kyle Rittenhouse is sworn in to testify during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on … [+] November 10, 2021.

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Key Facts

After more than three days of deliberations, jurors found Rittenhouse not guilty of intentional homicide and reckless homicide for killing Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, respectively.

He was also found not guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide for shooting and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, and he was acquitted on two counts of recklessly endangering safety for firing his gun near a reporter and an unknown man who tried to kick Rittenhouse.

Crucial Quote

Rittenhouse was visibly emotional after the not-guilty verdict was read. “He’s relieved, and he looks forward to getting on with his life,” Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards told the New York Times. “Having a jury of 12 people find him not guilty meant the world to him, in practical and symbolic ways.”

Surprising Fact

Prosecutors initially charged Rittenhouse with two other smaller offenses, but Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed them. The judge removed a minor charge for violating a city-imposed curfew due to insufficient evidence, and he tossed out a misdemeanor charge for being a minor in possession of a dangerous weapon after defense attorneys argued the law only applies to short-barreled guns, not the AR-15-style rifle used by Rittenhouse. 

Key Background

In August 2020, then-17-year-old Rittenhouse visited Kenosha with a rifle and medic kit, claiming he intended to protect a local business amid protests over the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake. He ultimately shot Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz in a set of chaotic moments at the protest, and pleaded not guilty to homicide. Rittenhouse’s attorneys acknowledged during the trial the case isn’t a “whodunit,” but argued their client feared for his life and acted in self-defense. They said Rosenbaum threatened Rittenhouse and tried to take his gun, Huber struck his neck with a skateboard and reached for the rifle, and Grosskreutz pointed a gun. Meanwhile, prosecutors painted Rittenhouse as an inexperienced vigilante and “wannabe soldier” whose presence in Kenosha was unsolicited and unhelpful. They argued he didn’t need to fire repeatedly at Rosenbaum, and say he provoked the subsequent violence by appearing to be an active shooter.

Tangent

The trial has captured nationwide attention. Some conservatives have backed Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims, but observers on the left have cast him as a vigilante. The case’s polarizing nature was on display Friday on Kenosha’s courthouse steps, where Rittenhouse supporters reportedly celebrated the verdict while critics like Blake’s uncle Justin Blake decried the decision just feet away.

Chief Critic

Huber’s parents told the Washington Post they’re “heartbroken and angry” over the verdict, and feel “there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son.” Meanwhile, Ben Crump — an attorney representing the Blake family — said in a statement the Rittenhouse case “has pulled back the curtain on the profound cracks in our justice system,” arguing, “If we were talking about a Black man, the conversation and outcome would be starkly different.”

Contra

“I believe justice has been served in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said in a tweet. “I hope everyone can accept the verdict, remain peaceful, and let the community of Kenosha heal and rebuild.”

What To Watch For

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) placed 500 National Guard troops on active duty last week, offering to deploy them to the Kenosha area if local law enforcement asks for help following the verdict. He also called for calm: “I urge folks who are otherwise not from the area to please respect the community by reconsidering any plans to travel there and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully,” Evers wrote in a statement.

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