After a divisive case sparking nationwide controversy and debate, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges, including first-degree intentional homicide and four other charges Friday.
Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha on Aug. 25, armed with a semiautomatic rifle and medical kit after three days of unrest in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse would end up shooting three people, two fatally.
The trial saw the prosecution aim to argue that Rittenhouse had acted as an instigator that night, by bringing his rifle, putting himself in with the demonstrations and firing with little provocation.
Wisconsin law allows for the use of deadly force so long as a person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself,”and there is no “duty to retreat” or make an attempt to escape before firing.
Rittenhouse testified in front of the jury that he had acted in self-defense. What many people believe as the turning point in the trial which lead to the acquittal was when the prosecution's witness, Richie McGinniss, a videographer for The Daily Caller, testified that Joseph Rosenbaum, one of the men shot and killed that day, had reached for Rittenhouse’s gun barrel before he opened fire.
The prosecution would struggle to undermine Rittenhouse’s main defense that he acted in self defense, a requirement for the use of deadly force in Wisconsin. The jury would go on to find that the prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Rittenhouse did not fear for his life, and therefore did act in self defense, acquitting him in the process.
The result of the trial has sparked nationwide controversy, with people citing arguments regarding Judge Schroeder, who presided over the trial, amongst other things.
“We're going to continue to fight,” said Justin Blake, uncle of Jacob Blake, the man shot in Kenosha which started the initial protests back in 2020. “Somehow, someway those 12 jurors who had the evidence found he was innocent of the charges, yet we have two young men that will never be walking through the door to their families again.”
Gov. Evers activated the National Guard in Kenosha earlier this week in order to aid law enforcement ahead of anticipated protests in the city. Other police departments across the state said that they have also been watching the trial, and were prepared for the development of any protests.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barnett said that he, along with the Milwaukee Police Chief, are monitoring the situation in Kenosha, and were ready to respond to any protests or activity in Milwaukee.
Ian Wilder is a senior staff writer and current men’s hockey beat reporter for The Daily Cardinal. He’s a former state politics and features reporter. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.