At a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, a use-of-force expert stated that Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions during the riots in Kenosha, Wisc., in August 2020 were justified. Rittenhouse shot three men during that rioting, two of those men, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, died from their injuries.
Expert John Black testified that video shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse before reaching for the defendant’s gun, Huber attacking Rittenhouse with his skateboard and attempting to wrestle away the gun, and Gaige Grosskreutz, who was injured, running at Rittenhouse armed with a pistol, according to WQAD 8.
“A citizen in that position, given those indicators, would it be reasonable for them to believe they were about to be assaulted?” Black stated. “I would argue yes.”
Black spent hours at the pretrial hearing describing the moments that led to the shootings, offering a preview of the defense team’s strategy when the trial begins next month.
On August 25, 2020, then 17-year-old Rittenhouse traveled from Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha to help protect businesses from rioters and arson. This civil unrest came after Kenosha police responded to a call from a woman reporting that her ex, Jacob Blake, had violated a restraining order.
Blake was shot seven times as he was reaching into his car, against police instructions at the time. Blake was paralyzed as a result of his injuries.
It was reportedly just before midnight, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum with an “AR-style semiautomatic rifle” in a used car dealership parking lot.” Rittenhouse was then pursued down the street and shot Huber after a confrontation. Grosskreutz was shot seconds after Huber, resulting in an injured arm.
Rittenhouse’s trial is set to begin on November 1. Defense attorneys are arguing that Rittenhouse fired in self-defense.
Mark Richards, lead attorney for Rittenhouse, is attempting to get Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to let Black testify at the trial. Schroeder reportedly allowed Black to speak at the Zoom hearing in hopes that would help him make a decision.
Black reportedly testified that he has extensively viewed and studied bystander video from the three shootings.
Black noted that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse, threw a plastic bag at him, then attempted to reach for Rittenhouse’s rifle.
“Now the firearm is a potential weapon for both parties,” Black said. “Now we have a potential wrestling match.”
After shooting Rosenbaum, video shows Rittenhouse running down the street. He stumbled at one point, with a man coming out of the crowd to kick Rittenhouse in the face. Black said Rittenhouse fired at that man but missed.
Huber then hit Rittenhouse in the neck with a skateboard before attempting to grab Rittenhouse’s rifle. Rittenhouse then shot Huber. Grosskreutz reportedly approached Rittenhouse with his hands raised in an “I surrender” motion, with a handgun in his right hand.
“He backed up before he stepped forward and lowered the pistol. Rittenhouse then shot him in the arm,” wrote WQAD 8.
Black stated that Rittenhouse had maintained control of his rifle and didn’t just randomly shoot into the crowd with bullets.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger argued that Black is an expert in the use of force by police, not civilians.
Binger also questioned whether Rittenhouse would have been justified in using lethal force if he wasn’t armed with a gun.
Black told Binger that he has taught civilian self-defense courses and that Binger was presenting a hypothetical situation, but if Rittenhouse hadn’t been armed with a gun, Black noted that Rittenhouse may not have been justified in using deadly force.
Schroeder reportedly held off on a decision regarding Black testifying at the trial, waiting to hear a prosecutor’s use of force expert at a hearing scheduled for October 25.