Rittenhouse Trial: The defense calls on an expert in the use of force


KENOSHA, WIS. – Less than three seconds elapsed between the moment a demonstrator in the streets fired a shot in the air and Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire with his rifle, a force use expert testified for defense Thursday at the trial for murder of Rittenhouse.

John Black took a stand as part of an effort by Rittenhouse lawyers to prove that the then 17-year-old had reason to fear for his life and acted in self-defense when he shot three men, killing two, during a turbulent night of protests against racial injustice in Kenosha last year.

The defense suggested to the jury that the relevant time frame for determining whether Rittenhouse’s use of force was reasonable was a few minutes around the shooting.

Black said it took 2 minutes and 55 seconds, from the moment the first man shot that night, Joseph Rosenbaum, chased Rittenhouse through a parking lot until Rittenhouse approached the police after hours. shootings.

Prosecutors, for their part, pointed to a much longer window, stating that the tragic chain of events unfolded over the course of hours, starting with Rittenhouse’s fateful decision to go to a volatile protest with a rifle.

Rittenhouse, now 18, committed the shootings during the riots that erupted in Kenosha in the summer of 2020 for the wounding of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white Kenosha police officer. He could get a life sentence if convicted. Rittenhouse is white, like the ones he shot.

Rittenhouse had gone to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic weapon and medical bag in what the former police and firefighter cadet said was an effort to protect the property after rioters set fires and looted the commercial activities in the previous nights.

The case split Americans over whether Rittenhouse was a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante.

On Wednesday, Rittenhouse spent most of the day in the witness stand recounting what happened in those frantic minutes of August 25, 2020, sobbing so loudly that at one point the judge ruled on a suspension.

“I haven’t done anything wrong. I defended myself, “he said.

In an account amply corroborated by the video and prosecution witnesses, Rittenhouse claimed that Rosenbaum cornered him and put his hand on the barrel of his rifle, the second man hit him with a skateboard, and the third man hit him with a skateboard. came at him with a gun of his own.

His testimony was interrupted by an angry exchange in which his lawyers called for an annulment of the trial without the right to a retrial, accusing the chief prosecutor of asking questions outside Rittenhouse’s bounds.

District Judge Bruce Schroeder, although blatantly angry with the prosecutor, did not immediately rule on the request. He brought the case forward on Thursday and said it would be ideal if the trial ended on Friday.

Much of the testimony centered on the killing of Rosenbaum, as that set in motion the bloodshed that followed.

Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum was wearing a chain that night and twice threatened to kill him.

“If I had allowed Mr. Rosenbaum to take my firearm, he would have used it and killed me with it,” he said, “and he probably would have killed more people.”

During cross-examination Wednesday, DA Thomas Binger tried to take home the state’s contention that Rittenhouse created the dangerous situation in the first place.

“You understand that when you point your AR-15 at someone, you might make them feel like you are going to kill them, right?” Binger asked.

Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin; Webber of Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writers Amy Forliti contributed from Minneapolis and Kathleen Foody from Chicago.


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