Kyle Rittenhouse: Who is he and what is he charged with?

·3-min read

Kyle Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he shot dead two people and injured a third during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August.

Protests, arson attacks and looting in the city were sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Mr Blake, a black man, was shot seven times by a white police officer leaving him partially paralysed.

Three months earlier, George Floyd was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin in a Minneapolis street leading to widespread anti-racism demonstrations.

The defendant

Kyle Rittenhouse travelled to Kenosha from the home he shares with his mother in Antioch, Illinois, a 30-minute drive away. The defendant's father lives in Kenosha.

Mr Rittenhouse's social media accounts show an interest in policing and guns, and support for former president Donald Trump.

On 25 August 2020, the defendant was carrying a military-style semi-automatic rifle, bought for him by a friend.

Kyle Rittenhouse claims he travelled to the city to protect buildings from being looted and to provide first aid.

The six charges

Mr Rittenhouse, now 18 years old, faces six charges.

One expert witness has suggested the key events all took place within 90 seconds:

1. First-degree reckless homicide

Joseph Rosenbaum chased Kyle Rittenhouse in a car park and threw a plastic bag at him. A reporter who witnessed events claims Mr Rosenbaum tried to grab Mr Rittenhouse's gun and this led to the defendant shooting him in the head.

The "reckless" aspect of this charge means prosecutors do not need to prove Kyle Rittenhouse intended to kill Joseph Rosenbaum, but that he caused his death by acting without regard for human life.

2. First-degree recklessly endangering safety

The journalist Richard McGinnis, who witnessed Mr Rosenbaum being shot, claims he was in the line of fire. Prosecutors say this means his safety was recklessly endangered.

3. First-degree intentional homicide

After killing Mr Rosenbaum, Kyle Rittenhouse was chased down a street; he tripped over. One person screamed: "That's the shooter!"

A video appears to show the second victim, Anthony Huber, lunging at Mr Rittenhouse and attempting to hit him with a skateboard before being shot.

"Intentional homicide" means prosecutors must prove Kyle Rittenhouse intended to kill Anthony Huber.

4. Attempted first degree intentional homicide

Seconds after firing at Mr Huber, another man, Gaige Grosskreutz, came towards Kyle Rittenhouse with a pistol. Mr Rittenhouse shot him in the arm. He survived.

5. First-degree recklessly endangering safety

At a similar time, an unknown man tried to kick Mr Rittenhouse. A video appears to show the defendant firing at him twice. It is assumed the man was unharmed.

6. Carrying a firearm illegally as a person under 18

Kyle Rittenhouse was armed with a military-style AR-15 rifle. Under Wisconsin law, under-18s may only carry firearms for hunting.

Mr Rittenhouse has told the court he understands it was illegal for him to carry a rifle but he wanted it because: "I thought it looked cool."

The jury's decision

Extensive video footage means most of the events of 25 August 2020 are not in question.

Instead the jury must decide on Kyle Rittenhouse's intent. What was he thinking when he fired his rifle? Were his actions reasonable or criminal?

Prosecutors argue that out of the hundreds of people who were part of the Kenosha unrest, the defendant was "the only one who killed anyone".

Mr Rittenhouse says he feared for his life and was acting in self defence. "I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself," he told the court.

One juror was dismissed after being overheard making a joke about the shooting of Jacob Blake.

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