Kyle Rittenhouse: Not Guilty


Sean Krajacic

The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

Morgan Turpin, Staff Writer

On August 25, 2021, Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two people during protests last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His argument was that it was done out of self-defense. On November 19, he was proven innocent and acquitted of all charges. Rittenhouse went through a criminal trial. This trial divided the nation and posed questions of gun rights, vigilantism, violence at racial justice protests, and more. 

Rittenhouse faced five criminal charges after the shooting, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree attempted intentional homicide, and two accounts of first-degree reckless endangerment. During the chaotic night of unrest in Kenosha, Rittenhouse armed himself with an AR-15-style rifle. This night was sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man.

Rittenhouse lived across the state line in Antioch, Illinois. He testified that he intended to act as a medic and to help protect private property. However, the night quickly got out of control. There were a series of encounters with protesters, which were documented with pictures and videos. Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz.

According to NPR, during the trial, Rittenhouse feared for his life in all three cases. Rittenhouse also stated that Rosenbaum had chased him and was grabbing his rifle.

“Mr. Rosenbaum was chasing me. He said he was going to kill me if he got me alone. I was alone. I was running from him. I pointed it at him, and it didn’t stop him from continuing to chase me,” Rittenhouse testified. Afterward, Rittenhouse ran to the police, and others, including Huber and Grosskreutz, began chasing him. Visual evidence confirmed that Huber had struck him with a skateboard. Grosskreutz was holding a loaded Glock pistol, which he later admitted was pointed at Rittenhouse but said it was unintentional. 

The verdict follows a trial where prosecutors had “struggled to overcome Rittenhouse’s claim that he acted in self-defense on the night of the shootings” according to NPR. NPR also stated, “He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened, but as he said when he testified, he did not start this,” said Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards, speaking to reporters outside the courthouse. “To say that we’re relieved would be a gross understatement.” Before the trial, various people labeled Rittenhouse as a hero while others called him a killer. If found guilty, Kyle Rittenhouse would have faced a mandatory life sentence in jail and would have been convicted of first-degree intentional homicide. 

Prosecutors argued that Rittenhouse was responsible for causing those situations because he chose to bring the rifle into a dangerous situation. They also said that he chose to be there even after being separated from a friend. However, prosecutors made repeated missteps, prompting defense lawyers to ask for mistrial twice on two separate occasions. 

Rittenhouse was proven innocent after it was concluded that he only acted out of self-defense. He was there to help protect private property but violence began, and he defended himself after being chased by someone with a gun. He stated that the first man he shot threatened to kill him. The trial lasted two weeks. Overall, Rittenhouse was cleared of all charges and set free.