Kyle Rittenhouse, who was arrested in 2020 for fatally shooting two rioters in Kenosha, Wisconsin during violent, anti-police protests, has been acquitted. After an intense and hotly anticipated murder trial, the jury concluded that there was not enough evidence to convict Rittenhouse of first-degree intentional homicide and therefore sentence him to possible life in prison.
Over the week, both prosecutors and defense lawyers working on the case made closing arguments, at which point the case was then delivered to the jury for deliberation. Rittenhouse was just 17-years-old at the time of the shootings in Kenosha, and has repeatedly claimed self defense as a reason for his actions. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” Rittenhouse said on the stand during his testimony. “I was defending myself.”
In 2020, Rittenhouse was confronted by two rioters in the street during violent protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man.
Joshua Ziminski and Joseph Rosenbaum, both of whom were reportedly arsonists and had been allegedly setting fires all night, appeared to act aggressively toward Rittenhouse. Rosenbaum was armed with a handgun. Video evidence shows that Rosenbaum discharged his handgun and then chased Rittenhouse across a parking lot. Rittenhouse then reportedly shot Rosenbaum four times.
Additionally, a second altercation occurred before Rittenhouse could reach the police, resulting in Rittenhouse also fatally shooting a second rioter, Anthony Huber.
Rittenhouse’s case has been hyper-politicized, and the mainstream media has painted him as the aggressor in the streets. However, the evidence portrays a different story, and both the prosecution and the defense have made multiple arguments for and against Rittenhouse’s actions. More importantly, this case clearly established whether or not the right to self-defense, protected by the 2nd Amendment, could still stand in the American courts.
Further, just days before the final verdict, the court found that Kyle Rittenhouse lawfully carried an AR-15 on the night of the Kenosha shootings in 2020, therefore dismissing the gun charges against him.
In addition, police departments like Chicago Police Department have reportedly been bracing for riots in anticipation of a verdict in Rittenhouse’s favor. The uncle of Jacob Blake, Justin Blake, stated that it seemed like Rittenhouse was going to be set free, and “we’re not going to let that happen. If it happens, we’re not going to be quiet.”
His comments seem to confirm what many officials fear: there may be riots following Rittenhouse’s acquittal, but after a grueling and emotional trial that has captured the attention of the nation, one thing is clear: the verdict in the Rittenhouse case has confirmed that the right to self-defense still provides a veritable level of protection in the courtroom as well as the streets.