Kyle Rittenhouse: Shooting Out of Self-Defense

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The Blue Diamond Gallery

Imagine of a Jury hammer.

On August 25, 2020, a police brutality protest occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There had been multiple rallies in the previous months, with some being unnecessarily violent. Fortunately, people in and around the city decided to step up and protect those who might be victims of the protesters. Among the people attempting to protect was seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, armed with a gun to use in case of emergency. That night, after most of the protestors had left the area, Rittenhouse was chased by one of them, a man named Joseph Rosenbaum. When Rosenbaum lunged at him, Kyle fired his gun, killing him. Those around him began to pursue him, resulting in the death of one more and an injury to another. 

In November of 2021, Kyle Rittenhouse was brought to trial for murder. He had killed two men that night in 2020, and wounded one. The charges he faced were first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety (twice), first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, all with the use of a dangerous weapon. He also faced counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of eighteen and failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government. Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to all charges.

He and his party claimed that he shot out of self-defense. They say that Rittenhouse didn’t shoot until he was provoked, which was true. Still, he shot three people, which resulted in two of their deaths, leading to the charges of homicide. Because he shot at people he saw as threats, he was asked if he aimed to kill, to which he responded, “I did what I had to do.” If he had shot specifically to murder his victims, it would have been intentional or attempted intentional homicide. The jury cleared him of these charges. 

Reckless homicide is when someone kills another, either unintentionally or not, for a rash reason or in an incautious way. Though Rittenhouse did not give a clear answer when asked if he intentionally murdered Rosenbaum and Huber, the other person he killed, he gave a reason why he shot: he feared for his life. Because he wasn’t shooting for no reason, he was cleared of this charge. Kyle Rittenhouse was also charged with recklessly endangering the safety of Richie McGinniss, a reporter from the Daily Caller who was trailing Rittenhouse the night of the shootings, and a protester who he shot at and missed. He endangered McGinniss by firing at Joseph Rosenbaum. Richie McGinnis was fifteen feet away from Rosenbaum when Kyle Rittenhouse shot at him. However, both of these counts were cleared as well.        

 Rittenhouse, who was seventeen at the time, was armed with a rifle that night. In Wisconsin, people under the age of eighteen are not allowed to carry firearms except in certain scenarios, none of which are to try to protect those who might need security. Though the judge was reluctant, the charge was dismissed. The charge of violating orders from the local government was lifted as well.

Kyle Rittenhouse was proclaimed not guilty of any charges on November 19, 2021. He was extremely grateful, breaking into tears when the verdict was announced. Rittenhouse said, “If I had to do it all over again… I wouldn’t do it.”