Kyle Rittenhouse is Not Guilty, Here’s Why

The timeline and misconceptions of Kyle Rittenhouse’s night in Kenosha…

Rittenhouse moments before the second and third shooting.

By: Hayden Cunningham

When the story of Kyle Rittenhouse went viral on social media in the summer of 2020, my initial reaction was completely different than the opinion I held after the trail was held. I immediately thought that the seventeen year old went to the city to have an excuse to run around with an AR-15 and shoot someone. But like always, it is important to hear the facts of a case before establishing an opinion.

Many are outraged today by Kyle Rittenhouse’s verdict of not-guilty. But most of these people who voice their dissent will have not watched the videos, will have not watched the court trial, and will have not realized that the media has blatantly lied about the facts of the case.

The Context of that Night in Kenosha

The rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin was a reaction to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. You will recall that Blake was shot while trying to kidnap his children from their mother’s house, a woman he had previously raped. When the police arrived, Blake was shot while reaching for a knife.

Regardless of these circumstances, the city of Kenosha rioted because of what they perceived to be police brutality towards a black man. But while many in Kenosha were there to peacefully protest, there were also rioters in the city taking advantage of the situation.

Kyle Rittenhouse had a group of friends in Kenosha who were tasked with protecting a car dealership throughout the night while the rioting occurred. Rittenhouse went to the car lot with his friends to protect the property, but he also had the intention of helping those on the streets. He brought medical supplies to treat any injures (Rittenhouse had taken several medical training classes), he had a fire extinguisher in case the cars were set on fire, and he brought an AR-15 owned by his friend that they considered to be his.

Throughout the night, Rittenhouse had several clashes with the rioters on the street near the car lot. Of course, two of those encounters resulted in Rittenhouse shooting three men. Here are each of those events:

The First Shooting

Kyle Rittenhouse testified that he had previously heard Joseph Rosenbaum say to him and his friend, “If I catch you guys alone tonight, I’m gonna f***ing kill you.” Rittenhouse’s friend at the protest, Ryan Balch, also testified that he heard Rosenbaum make these threats.

Footage from the protest before the time of the shooting showed Rosenbaum’s behavior as erratic and unstable. He was swinging around a chain, he lit a dumpster on fire and pushed it towards a gas station, and he was repeatedly yelling the N-word.

Footage of Rosenbaum hours before the shooting.

Rosenbaum had a long criminal history which included the sexual assault of minors. On the day of the shooting, he was released from a hospital he was in because of a suicide attempt.

At the time of the shooting, Rittenhouse was separated from his group when he received a call from his friend Dominick Black telling him to go to the Car Source because rioters were destroying the cars and lighting the property on fire. Rittenhouse asked an individual at the nearby gas station if he could come with him and bring a fire extinguisher. The individual gave Rittenhouse a fire extinguisher but did not accompany him.

Rittenhouse made his way to the Car Source alone. He quickly ran toward the car lot with his gun, his medic bag, and the fire extinguisher to put out the fire. He also was asking people along the way if they needed any medical attention.

As he continued to run down the street, Rittenhouse noticed a Duramax on fire and approached it to put out the fire. As he stepped forward, a man named Joshua Ziminski approaches Rittenhouse with a pistol. Rittenhouse drops the fire extinguisher and runs the opposite direction. As he was running, Rosenbaum starts to chase him. Rittenhouse testified that Ziminski told Rosenbaum to “get him and kill him.”

Surrounded by people, Rittenhouse ran towards the southwest corner of the Car Source. Rosenbaum throws an object at Rittenhouse (this is later confirmed to be some sort of plastic bag, but at the time Rittenhouse did not know what it was). Rittenhouse turned around when the object is thrown, pointing his gun at Rosenbaum. The gun does not deter Rosenbaum, and he continues to chase Rittenhouse. As Rittenhouse runs backwards towards several parked cars and people nearby, a gunshot is fired from behind him. As Rittenhouse turns around towards the direction of the shot, Rosenbaum lunges at him and grabs his gun. Rittenhouse fires four times at Rosenbaum and kills him.

The Second Shooting

After shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse became worried about the mob around him. People who saw Rittenhouse shoot Rosenbaum began shouting “get his ass” and “get him.” Rittenhouse started running north on the road with the idea to turn himself into law enforcement.

Rittenhouse ran down the street as he was being chased by rioters. After getting hit twice by rocks thrown at him, and becoming lightheaded from the situation, he falls down in the middle of the road. Several of the men that were chasing him approached him while he was on the ground.

Anthony Huber approaches Rittenhouse with a skateboard. He swings the skateboard to hit Rittenhouse on the head twice. Another man jumps on Rittenhouse to stomp his head. After hitting his head with a skateboard, Huber grabs his gun. Rittenhouse fires at Huber, killing him.

Footage of the second and third shooting.

The Third Shooting

As Rittenhouse shoots Huber, Gaige Grosskreutz runs up towards Rittenhouse with a pistol. After Huber is shot, Grosskreutz puts his hands up. Rittenhouse lowers his gun and points it at the ground. Then, Grosskreutz raises his gun once again and points it at Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse shoots Grosskreutz in his arm. When Grosskreutz retreats, Rittenhouse does not fire again.

Rittenhouse’s testimony matches the evidence seen on video. Grosskreutz’s testimony also substantiates that this is what happened:

Defense: “So when you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?”

Grosskreutz: “Correct”

Defense: “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him with your gun — now your hands down, pointed at him — that he fired, right?”

Grosskreutz: “Correct”

The prosecution’s reaction after Grosskreutz admitted Rittenhouse did not fire until the pistol was pointed at him.

The Charges

Kyle Rittenhouse, at the age of 18 during the trial, was potentially facing life in prison for numerous charges. Here are the charges:

  • First-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon (Rosenbaum shooting)
  • First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon (McGinnis)
  • First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon (“Jump-kick man” who leaped and kicked Rittenhouse)
  • First-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon (Huber)
  • Attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weaponry (Grosskreutz)
  • Failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government (curfew)
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18

(After the prosecution failed to prove that there was a curfew in place that night, the judge dismissed the curfew violation charge)

The Misconceptions

That Rittenhouse illegally possessed a firearm

The judge dismissed the gun possession charge because Wisconsin law does not prohibit a minor from legally carrying a rifle in public. The law only applies to short-barreled rifles or pistols. Rittenhouse’s AR-15 was not illegal for him to carry.

That Rittenhouse traveled across state lines with his firearm

Rittenhouse did not own the AR-15 he was carrying in Kenosha.

Dominick Black owned the firearm and stored it in his father’s home in Kenosha inside a gun safe. At no point did Rittenhouse own the firearm or possess it in his Illinois home. At no point did Rittenhouse cross state lines with the firearm.

That Rittenhouse went to Kenosha, a city he had no connection with, to stir up conflict and ultimately shoot someone

Rittenhouse was from Antioch, Illinois. The city is less than a mile and a half from the border of Wisconsin. Rittenhouse lived about 20-30 minutes away from Kenosha.

Many of Rittenhouse’s family lived in Kenosha, including his father, grandma, aunt, uncle, and cousins. He also worked in the city as a lifeguard.

By all accounts, Rittenhouse had no intention to shoot anyone that night. He was in the city the day of the shootings to clean graffiti. He was defending property that he was asked to help defend. He carried around his medic bag and asked protestors if they needed any medical aid. He attempted to put out fires throughout the neighborhood.

Richard McGinnis, a journalist from The Daily Caller, interviewed Rittenhouse on the day of the shooting to ask him about his intentions:

Rittenhouse before the shootings explaining why he was in Kenosha

Various footage has been posted on social media that depicts Rittenhouse trying to deescalate conflict and ask protestors if they needed any medial assistance.

Rittenhouse’s decision to bring a rifle escalated the conflict

Rittenhouse explicitly stated that he brought his AR-15 for his own protection. The city of Kenosha was set on fire, and first responders were not operating at full efficiency.

It’s worth noting the hypocrisy with this argument; the same side that says not to victim blame (for example, a woman walks down a dark and dangerous alley and gets assaulted) but they eagerly blame Rittenhouse for bringing a gun. The blame should actually be on the people who attacked Rittenhouse.

Had Rittenhouse not brought a gun, he may have been killed that night. The reason he brought the gun was to protect himself and deescalate conflict, not escalate it. The gun was brought as a deterrent to be brandished in front of a violent mob of people who were rioting.

That Rittenhouse had no business being in the city

Even if you disagree with Rittenhouse’s decision to go to Kenosha, or if you disagree with the idea of bringing a firearm, neither is justification for someone trying to kill him. Even if a person is somewhere they should not have been with a gun they should not have (this is not the case here), that person still has a legal and moral right to self-defense.

Whether or not Rittenhouse should have been there has nothing to do with the trial itself. No one should have been there! People should not have gone outside to riot in the first place.

Do we want 17 year olds in public with guns, defending property and trying to protect people? Of course not. That is the job of law enforcement. But there is nothing illegal about a person using a firearm to protect property or possess a firearm while trying to put out fires and provide medical aid. This has been a part of our society since the founding of our country; people have often used their firearms to protect their community. Besides, Rittenhouse was part of a community where law enforcement and first responders were being held back and were not able to effective do their jobs. It’s not surprising that he would want to go serve his community. You may disagree with the decision, but that does not make it illegal or immoral.

That Rittenhouse’s shooting were not justified

Between the videos recorded of the events, and Grosskreutz’s own testimony, it is clear that the shootings are justified.

Rittenhouse only used his firearm when his life was directly threatened and it was his last resort. Many gun owners understand that when you shoot someone attacking you, the idea is to “shoot to stop the immediate threat.” Rittenhouse did not willfully shoot people with the intention of killing them. Rather, he shot to stop the threat of the people who were attacking him.

When Rittenhouse discharged his firearm he displayed patience and hesitance. Rittenhouse only used lethal force when it was a last resort and his life was being threatened. He shot with accuracy and only fired the number of rounds he needed to stop the threat. These are not the actions of a reckless person, nor is it the actions of an “active shooter.”

After the shooting happened, Rittenhouse immediately walked towards police officers with his hands up. He tried to get the officers to stop so he can communicate with them and let them know what had happened. He was not trying to “play cop” or act as though he was law enforcement.

That Rittenhouse was a white supremacist, or that his ‘victims’ were black

Joe Biden’s tweet while running for President in 2020

After the jury found Rittenhouse not guilty, many journalists from well-known publications were calling him a white supremacist. Even Joe Biden, when running for president, displayed Rittenhouse in an advertisement against white supremacy.

There is no evidence that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist or supports any racist movement. In his post-trial interview with Tucker Carlson, he expressed support for the BLM movement. He also claimed that he has seen first-hand how prosecutors go after people and acknowledged there is a certain level of injustice in prosecutions.

There was also the myth floating across social media that the individual’s he shot were black. The Independent (a British news publication) even claimed this on their frontpage. This is obviously untrue; all three of the men Rittenhouse shot were white.

That if Rittenhouse were black, he would have been found guilty

This is a non-sequitur that is frequently used when a white person is found not guilty or serves a light sentence compared to what people’s expectations were.

There is no evidence to support the claim that Rittenhouse would have been guilty if he was black. There is no evidence to support the claim that the judge was racist or was “helping” Rittenhouse. There is no evidence to support the claim that black people serve harsher sentences than white people with the same backgrounds for the same crime.

Here is a simple example to show why this allegation is not true: On the same day Kyle Rittenhouse was declared not guilty by a jury for self-defense, a black man was declared not guilty by a jury for self-defense.

Andrew Coffee, a black individual from Florida, was asleep when a SWAT team raided his home to look for his father (who was suspected of drug dealing). Coffee testified that he did not hear the SWAT team announce themselves, and assumed that his home was being invaded. In response, he fired on the deputies and they returned fire. The jury found him not guilty for the shooting, citing self-defense.

That the individuals Rittenhouse shot were peaceful protestors and morally sound people

Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz each had a long history of crime and violence. Yet, this is not being spoken about. Their criminal history does not have a significant impact in Rittenhouse’s cases, but it is a factor in determining why they were in Kenosha. It is also concerning how society will idolize those that die as saints. George Floyd, for example, had a statue built of him and was compared to Jesus Christ in a courtroom despite his long history of violence. Rosenbaum and Huber are being treated a similar way on social media.

Joseph Rosenbaum: A 36-year old man who had spent more than 14 years in prison for the sexual assault of multiple minors from 9 to 11 years old. The worst charge Rosenbaum had was for anally raping a young boy. He had a history of seeking out single mothers so he could sexually assault their sons. On the day he was murdered by Rittenhouse, he was released from the hospital for a suicide attempt.

Anthony Huber: A 26-year old man who had a history of strangulation and domestic violence. Huber allegedly threatened his brother in the past, saying he was “going to gut him like a pig” while holding a butcher’s knife.

Gaige Grosskreutz: The only man shot by Rittenhouse who survived. Grosskreutz had a long criminal history including two chares of carrying a firearm while drunk, multiple DUI’s, domestic abuse, burglary, trespassing, etc. Six days before he took the stand in the Rittenhouse trial, one of his pending charges was dropped. Grosskreutz was not from Kenosha and actually drove further than Rittenhouse did to Kenosha. Grosskreutz was also illegally concealing the pistol he pointed at Rittenhouse that night.

After he testified in court that Rittenhouse did not shoot until he pointed a pistol at him, Grosskreutz appeared on CNN and claimed that Rittenhouse shot him when his hands were up. He also implied he did not point his gun at Rittenhouse. Both of these are lies and contradict his testimony under oath.

Despite all this, you see celebrities on social media chanting “say their names” and claiming that Rittenhouse shot innocent people.

Understanding their past conduct shows that they had a history of violence. The point is that the two men Rittenhouse killed, Rosenbaum and Huber, were not likely to have been in Kenosha to peacefully protest the shooting of Jacob Blake. Rather, they were former criminals who were taking advantage of a city filled with looting and unrest.

The Prosecution

The prosecution holding Rittenhouse’s AR-15 in the courtroom. Notice how he is not practicing proper gun safety: his finger is on the trigger, he is pointing it right by the jury, the stock is not on his shoulder properly, etc.

The prosecution’s lack of evidence to convict Rittenhouse caused them to make allegations that did not have much weight. For example:

  • They implied that Rittenhouse’s history of playing Call of Duty made him want to shoot people in public
  • They argued that Rittenhouse using full metal jacket ammunition instead of hollow-point ammunition was reckless endangerment
  • They brought up Rittenhouse’s Tiktok account
  • They implied that because Grosskreutz did not fire his pistol sooner and at a longer distance that Rittenhouse should not have assumed him to be a threat
  • They implied that a rifle is more dangerous than a pistol
  • They implied that Rittenhouse’s history of playing Call of Duty made him want to shoot people in public
  • They argued that Rittenhouse using full metal jacket ammunition instead of hollow-point ammunition was reckless endangerment
  • They brought up Rittenhouse’s Tiktok account
  • They implied that because Grosskreutz did not fire his pistol sooner and at a longer distance that Rittenhouse should not have assumed him to be a threat
  • They implied that a rifle is more dangerous than a pistol
  • They argued that a person loses their right to self-defense when carrying a firearm
  • They said that Rittenhouse brought a gun to a fist fight
  • They argued that a person loses their right to self-defense when they are carrying a firearm

Rittenhouse responds to a bizarre line of questioning

The prosecution made several moves that angered the judge and the defense. Thomas Binger, the assistant District Attorney, claimed that Rittenhouse’s silence was itself an admission of guilt. This argument cannot be made in a court room because of every citizen’s right to remain silent (Miranda Rights).

The prosecution tried to prevent certain evidence from entering the court room as well. They were able to identify “jump-kick man” who attacked Rittenhouse but refused to call him as a witness.

The prosecution also withheld drone footage of Rittenhouse’s shooting. A low-resolution video was used in the court room while the prosecution had clearer footage of the event. It wasn’t until after the Rittenhouse’s testimony concluded that the prosecution gave the higher-resolution footage to the defense.

The judge made the decision that the prosecution cannot call the people Rittenhouse shot “victims” because that would prejudge him (which is the job of the jury). The judge also allowed the defense to label these men as “rioters” or “looters.”

Because of the actions of the prosecution, the defense filed for a mistrial with prejudice. They argued that the prosecution was purposefully provoking a mistrial. Had the judge declared a mistrial with prejudice, Rittenhouse’s charges would have been dropped. As the judge was sitting on the decision, the jury unanimously confirmed Rittenhouse to be not guilty.

In closing arguments, the prosecution lists Rosenbaum’s actions with a tone of voice to imply they are not bad.

The Verdict

In this case, it was pretty clear that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. The events are on video and it is clear that Rittenhouse only shot when necessary to preserve his life.

It is important to remember that our legal system relies on the prosecution proving that someone is guilty “beyond any reasonable doubt.” In our country, a person is innocent until proven guilty. If there is agreement that they are guilty beyond any form of doubt, then they should be declared guilty. That burden of prove is on the prosecution, not the defense. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Rittenhouse did not have the right to self-defense.

This verdict was not a guarantee. The jury had factors to consider other than evidence of the case itself. Many protestors gathered outside the courthouse and threatened to riot if Rittenhouse was declared not guilty. There was also jury intimidation; a journalist associated with MSNBC was found trying to record the faces of the jury as they got on a bus. Regardless of threats and intimidation, the jury determined that Rittenhouse was not guilty.

This is an important aspect of the case that must be condemned. Juries should not be intimidated to make certain decisions. We cannot live in a country with a judicial system that relies on mob rule.

Rittenhouse reacts to the jury’s verdict

Why is this case so Important?

This case was particularly significant for gun-owners. Every person who owns a firearm had a stake in this case. What type of message does it send to law-abiding gunowners if an individual goes to jail after a video shows him using a gun in self-defense? That would have been a terrifying verdict in a country that sees gun ownership and self-defense as a human right.

It is also interesting how politicized the Kyle Rittenhouse trial had become. Journalists and those on social media have made this case a left-right issue. If you thought Rittenhouse was not guilty, you were assumed to be a republican. If you thought he was guilty, you were assumed to be a democrat. Politicizing the issue can make many centrists or democrats who think he was not guilty too scared to speak up because they do not want to be branded a republican. It also makes those who like to virtue signal eager to write a social media post condemning Rittenhouse without actually learning the facts of the case.

This was a common characteristic of our country’s reaction to the verdict. Many Americans simply headline surfed or listened to other people’s opinions instead of taking the time to read articles from multiple perspectives and watch the trial unfold.

This case did not deserve national attention, but the left-wing media made Rittenhouse a household name because of their desire to paint him as a radical republican. They called him a white supremacist, a racist, a murder, etc. There is no evidence to support any of these claims, but they doubled down on the narrative. This may lead to a series of defamation lawsuits by Rittenhouse similar to Nick Sandmann.

MSNBC host calls Rittenhouse a “little murderous white supremacist

Sometimes with complex issues like this one it is hard to have a large percentage of people knowledgeable about the subject. To understand the situation takes time. It involves reading (from multiple perspectives), watching the evidence on video, and even watching the trial itself. People do not want to take the time to do this. As a result, you have those who speak without any real knowledge of the topic. What’s so hard about simply saying “I do not know enough about the subject to have an opinion?”

This case is an example of how polarized our society has come. Many Americans on the left were calling for an 18 year old to spend the rest of his life in prison when his obvious acts of self-defense are on video. There are some who did not learn enough about the case, but there are also those who can watch a video and walk away with a conclusion completely different than reality. It is dangerous how ignorant people can be because they want something to fit their narrative. It is even more dangerous how many of our country’s journalists do the same thing and then spread false information.

Unlike other political topics, this one is not up for debate. There are not “two sides” to the argument. There is a clear right and wrong. Rittenhouse is lucky that his actions were on camera. Anyone who says that he was guilty is either lying or does not know enough about the case. And anyone who watched that video and the trial and still pushes that false narrative is purposefully being dishonest and deceitful.

Rittenhouse gets emotional when recalling the night of the shooting

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