Posted on September 8, 2020

Here’s Why Kyle Rittenhouse, the Teen Shooting Suspect in Kenosha Killings, is Likely to Get Off

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, September 3, 2020


Kyle Rittenhouse is probably going to walk.

He’s going to plead self-defense — his lawyers have already signaled as much — and from what I’ve seen, read and heard, I predict he’s going to be acquitted on the most serious charges.


According to prosecutors, video from the scene and witness accounts, the legally relevant portion of the story picked up a little before midnight: For unknown reasons, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, who had earlier been yelling angrily at the armed men who had come to the protests, was at a run, chasing Rittenhouse along Sheridan Road and into the parking lot of a used-car dealer.

When Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, finally cornered Rittenhouse, he grabbed for the teenager’s gun. Multiple shots rang out, and Rosenbaum fell, mortally wounded.

Did Rittenhouse have a reasonable belief under the circumstances that if Rosenbaum got his gun he would suffer death or great bodily harm? Jurors in Wisconsin are instructed that “reasonable” means “what a person of ordinary intelligence and prudence would have believed … under the circumstances that existed at the time.”

{snip} Gunshots from other weapons were heard immediately before and after the shots that killed Rosenbaum. Whether you think Rittenhouse is a hero for helping guard against a repeat of the vandalism the night before, or if you think he’s a reckless wannabe cop who had no business in Kenosha, you’ve got to concede that, at that moment, he was probably terrified.

Rittenhouse hustled away. Soon a group of people began chasing him up Sheridan Road, shouting “Beat him up!” “Get him! Get that dude!” and “Get his ass!” according to the prosecution’s summary. One of the pursuers took a swing at Rittenhouse and knocked his ball cap off.


Rittenhouse stumbled and fell as he ran. One of his pursuers took a flying kick at his head and missed as Rittenhouse fired two errant shots from the ground. A second pursuer, Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, Wisconsin, swung a skateboard at Rittenhouse, hitting him on the shoulder, and grabbed and tried to hang onto Rittenhouse’s rifle. Rittenhouse shot Huber in the chest during that struggle, prosecutors said, killing him.

A third victim, Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, of West Allis, Wisconsin, who survived, first held up his hands in a gesture of surrender at a distance of a few feet. In one of his hands, he held a gun. But when he “moved toward” Rittenhouse, prosecutors said, Rittenhouse fired, striking him in the arm.


What about the context, though? The confrontational, high-adrenaline interactions that led up to the tragic deaths. The night air punctuated by gunshots. Danger all around.


I predict Kyle Rittenhouse is going to walk.