Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty

Jury in Kenosha clears him on all counts
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2021 12:22 PM CST
Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty
Kyle Rittenhouse is comforted by his lawyer as he was acquitted of all charges at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The jury came back with its verdict after close to 3 1/2 days of deliberation.   (AP Photo)

Kyle Rittenhouse is a free man. A jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday cleared the 18-year-old on all counts related to his shooting of three men during unrest in the city in 2020, reports Mediaite. Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, then 26, but he claimed self-defense in his closely watched trial. The jury reached its verdict during the fourth day of deliberations. Rittenhouse faced charges including homicide and attempted homicide and faced life in prison if convicted. He shot the men during a night of protests against police violence toward Black people, with the white teenager joining those who said they were patrolling to protect the city.

As such, the trial became what the AP calls a "flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice." A big question now is whether the acquittal will lead to new unrest in Kenosha. Schools there already had shifted to virtual learning this week in anticipation of a verdict, reports the Kenosha News. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers urged people to stay calm and said 500 National Guard members could be deployed if necessary. While dismissing the jurors, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder promised the court would take “every measure” to ensure their safety.

During the trial, prosecutors described Rittenhouse as a "wannabe soldier," but the teen testified on his own behalf and countered: “I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself.” Rittenhouse had broken down on the witness stand during his testimony, and USA Today reports that the announcement of the acquittals left him in a similar state: "As each not guilty verdict was read, Rittenhouse started to cry. By the last verdict, he appeared to collapse. He was helped up and given water. Rittenhouse then hugged one of his attorneys."

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Some early reactions:

  • Criticism: Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Black Democratic candidate for US Senate, criticized the verdict. “Over the last few weeks, many dreaded the outcome we just witnessed," she said. "The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is what we should expect from our judicial system, but that standard is not always applied equally. We have seen so many Black and brown youth killed, only to be put on trial posthumously, while the innocence of Kyle Rittenhouse was virtually demanded by the judge.”
  • Praise: “All of us who knew what actually happened in Kenosha last year assumed this would be the verdict,” tweeted Republican former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. “Thankfully, the jury thought the same.”
(More Kyle Rittenhouse stories.)

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