“Not guilty of all charges.” That was the jury’s verdict in the recently decided case of Kyle Rittenhouse. Mr. Rittenhouse shot and killed two men and wounded a third during an encounter that occurred following protests/riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Mr. Rittenhouse, who lives in Antioch, Illinois, traveled across state lines on August 25, 2021, and there became armed with an AR-15 style, semi-automatic rifle and a first aid kit to reportedly provide medical aid to protesters and protection for private property in Kenosha.
The weapon carried by Mr. Rittenhouse, then only 17 years old, was obtained illegally. His claims of being “employed” by a car dealership to protect one of their car lots, were false. His claim that he was a trained EMT was false. His claim was that he shot and wounded those men in self-defense and because he was in fear of his life. Apparently, after three days of deliberations and multiple hours viewing cell phone videos of Mr. Rittenhouse’s actions that night, the jury agreed with him and both charges of homicide and both charges of reckless endangerment were dropped. Mr. Rittenhouse is now a free man.
I watched most of the trial proceedings on CNN, CBS and Fox News. What I saw in the videos, to me, could have had multiple interpretations. I suppose self-defense could have been one of the conclusions, but what I saw was a brash young kid, emboldened by arming himself with a dangerous weapon, crossing state lines and strutting arrogantly around, long after a city-wide curfew, in a place where he did not belong. When he confronted people, they responded aggressively and he shot them.
On the witness stand I saw a spoiled little kid, crying uncontrollably, not because he was remorseful about having killed and wounded innocent men, but because he got caught and faced the potential of life in prison. I suppose I can understand the jury finding him not guilty on the two first degree murder charges. What I don’t understand is how he escaped the two lesser charges of reckless endangerment. It seems to me that is exactly what he did, act recklessly, and the three shootings which resulted in two deaths are the proof of the endangerment.
The gun Rittenhouse used in the shootings was provided by his friend, 20-year-old Dominick Black of Racine, Wis., after Rittenhouse drove himself the twenty miles from his house in Illinois and arrived in Kenosha, where his father lived, according to a criminal complaint that was dismissed by the judge in his trial. BTW, I never understood why those charges of illegal possession of a gun, were dismissed, but I will keep looking.
According to the complaint: Black bought the rifle for Rittenhouse in May 2020, using money from Rittenhouse, and they agreed the rifle would be stored at Black’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, was too young to legally buy the gun in Wisconsin. I never saw anything that explained why Rittenhouse had his friend purchase the weapon in May, long before the Jacob Blake shooting in August, but it is doubtful the two circumstances were connected.
Rittenhouse testified that he went to Kenosha with his sister and friends to clean up graffiti left by protestors, protect property and provide first aid after seeing online pleas for people to come to the city to help protect it. Rittenhouse testified that after the shootings, Black drove him home to Antioch, where he told his mother and two sisters what happened. He said his mother drove him to the local police station, where he surrendered.
Wendy Rittenhouse told the Chicago Tribune in November that she would have tried to stop her son from going to Kenosha, but she didn’t know where he was or what he was doing. To me, this is very telling. Although Mr. Rittenhouse was a product of a broken home, his father an alcoholic and divorced from his mother, a boy who needed to work to help support the family unit, it still could support the opinion that this was a spoiled, privileged and unsupervised young man of some means with visions of grandeur and with hopes this adventure would help him become a hero, in his own eyes and the eyes of others.
We will have to see, going forward, if his acquittal is justified and what Mr. Rittenhouse will do to turn his life around from this point. I hope it works out for him. However, in my mind, this verdict could set a very dangerous precedent, that could be used in similar situations that might occur in the future, to justify murder in the name of self-defense.
I would love to see your comments and opinions.