Kyle Rittenhouse, all of 18, faced charges for killing by shooting 3 unarmed men in a public protest against police brutality in Wisconsin, on 25th. August, 2020. Two of Rittenhouse’s victims died, while the third was wounded during the looting, arson, and rioting in that night’s protests against police brutality. The teenager was found not guilty by the jury. Observers view it as justice dished out by an armed teen taking law into his own hands, while others view it as protecting property from rioters and acting in self-defense. The self-defense arguments convinced jurors during the trial, who deliberated for three days, before passing a non-guilty verdict. Some interesting things learned from the trial:
Presence at the Car Dealership
Black and Rittenhouse joined many to save a car dealership from ongoing looting. According to defense witness, Nicholas Smith, they were asked by dealership owners to help protect it, which the owners deny. Smith testified he requested Black to protect this particular dealership on the app Snapchat, after seeing his pictures at the previous night’s protests.
Moving Illegal weapons across State Lines
The AR-15 weapon was purchased by Black in Wisconsin for Rittenhouse as he was underage. Black stored the gun for his friend, and possessed a firearm. Both went to rural areas for target practice.
Wisconsin’s Wording of Gun Laws and the Charges on Possession of Firearm
With a charge of possession of dangerous weapon by a minor on Rittenhouse, the confusing wording of the gun laws at Wisconsin has. caused the misdemeanor charge to be dropped. The law in Wisconsin says that any minor under 18 years, armed with a dangerous weapon shall be held guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Illegality only applies if someone is armed with a short-barrelled rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches, and an overall length less than 26 inches.
Shooting in Self-defense
In a trial report, experts said that the trial outcome was dramatic but not surprising. Both video evidence and testimonies made it difficult to disprove self-defense beyond reasonable doubt about the teenager’s claims about being pursued by a crowd and afraid for his life. Rosenbaum chased the teenager, throwing a bag on him before he was fatally wounded. Grosskreutz pulled out a firearm during the incident, while Huber hit him with a skateboard.
Police Handling of the Incident
Another element in Rittenhouse’s trial was the police treatment after the shooting. The self-deployed teenager, just minutes after the shooting, was greeted by police officers, who gave a bottle of water. He went home, was persuaded by his mother to surrender, but when detectives realized he failed to understand his Miranda rights, the interview was cut off.
During the in-camera trial that captured the country’s and the medias attention, the prosecution claimed that Rittenhouse belonged to the far-right Proud Boys, which was a group of white supremacists. The motion was denied by the judge for lack of evidence. Many political questions arose from charges against Rittenhouse. This outcome leaves many Americas wondering if armed civilians can indeed take the law into their own hands.