Judge Boots Rittenhouse Juror Over Joke

White retiree joked to court officer about police shooting of Jacob Blake
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 4, 2021 1:12 PM CDT
Judge Boots Rittenhouse Juror Over Joke
Judge Bruce Schroeder talks about a juror who told a joke that got him booted from the Kyle Rittenhouse jury panel.   (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

A juror in Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial was dismissed Thursday after a court security officer reported that the man told a joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which set off protests in the Wisconsin city where Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three people. Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said the security officer reported the remarks earlier this week, per the AP. Prosecutor Thomas Binger said the remarks as shared showed racial bias. Blake, who is Black, was shot by a white Kenosha police officer and left partially paralyzed. When Schroeder called the juror into the courtroom to discuss what he said, the juror said he didn't want to repeat his comments.

"It was my understanding it was something along the lines of, 'Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?'" said prosecutor Binger, per NPR. "It's my understanding that the rest of the joke is: 'Because they ran out of bullets.'" The judge said it was “clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case." The juror responded: “It wasn’t anything to do with the case. It wasn’t anything to do with Kyle." The juror is a retired white man, and he made the joke Wednesday to a court officer escorting him to the man's vehicle.

Twenty jurors were seated this week for Rittenhouse's trial on homicide and other charges, with Schroeder saying he would decide later which 12 would decide the case and which would be alternates. Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, killed two people and injured a third during an August 2020 protest against police brutality in Kenosha. The protests started after the police officer shot Blake in the back while responding to a reported domestic disturbance. Blake had been fighting with officers and had a knife. The county prosecutor later declined to charge the officer.

(Read more Kyle Rittenhouse stories.)

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