The U.S. jury ruled that Kyle Rittenhouse was not guilty of all charges of shooting protesters at a protest against racial injustice in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.
The 18-year-old Rittenhouse shot and killed two demonstrators Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded the third Geki Ge in a massive protest on August 25, 2020. Rose Crutz faces a possible life sentence.
On Friday, a 12-member jury found Rittenhouse guilty of two counts of homicide, one count of attempted murder and two counts of reckless endangering safety.
After the verdict, Rittenhouse suddenly sobbed, which happened shortly after the judge warned the court to remain silent or was dismissed.
“against [the] Judge Bruce Schroeder told the court that all accused defendants had been fired for prejudice and he had been exempted from bail.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers during the trial argued that he had the right to carry the semi-automatic rifle he brought to the demonstration site and took self-defense actions after being attacked, while the prosecutor accused the teenager of instigating deadly violence event.
This high-profile case has sparked heated debates about racism, gun violence, and vigilance across the United States. Several civil rights and racial justice organizations condemned Friday’s verdict as “irony.”
“The Rittenhouse trial highlights the urgent need to reform the police and criminal legal system. The system is damaged and urgently needs repair,” said Shadi Ali, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Wisconsin, in a statement Said in.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a racial justice advocacy organization, said in a statement: “The verdict in the #KyleRittenhouse case is a kind of irony, failing to bring justice to those who lost their lives in peaceful assemblies to protest police brutality and violence.” tweet.
The Congressional Black Caucus, composed of black federal legislators, added: “Our judicial system allows armed duty police officers…to be unreasonable with impunity.”
Al Jazeera’s John Henderen reported outside the court that people were “very worried” about possible riots after the jury made a decision.
“We may see very powerful law enforcement agencies later today,” he said. “Whether we will see a repeat of what happened in the summer of 2020, we don’t know. There is not a large crowd on the steps of the court.”
Verdict in #Kyle leightonhouse The case is a kind of irony, failing to bring justice to those who lost their lives in a peaceful assembly to protest police brutality and violence.
-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (@NAACP) November 19, 2021
In August 2020, a white policeman shot a black man Jacob Blake in the back and paralyzed him. After the protests broke out, Rittenhouse was a resident of Illinois. He had traveled to nearby Kenosha at that time.
Three months ago, after the unarmed black George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis, widespread civil unrest occurred in the American city.
Rittenhouse claimed that he was in Kenosha to protect property from mobs and to provide medical assistance to anyone in need.
But the prosecutor said that the teenager incited deadly violence. Prosecutor Thomas Binger repeatedly showed a drone video to the jury. He said the video showed Rittenhouse pointing an AR-15-style weapon at the demonstrators.
“If you provoke an incident, you can’t hide behind self-defense,” Binge said in his closing statement. “If you create a danger, you lose the right to self-defense by carrying guns, targeting people, and threatening people’s lives. The defendant provokes everything.”
Rittenhouse’s lawyers filed an invalid trial, claiming that prosecutors provided them with a poor-quality digital version of a drone video that showed Rittenhouse raising a gun and pointing it at the protesters. During the deliberations, the jury asked to watch the video again.
Rittenhouse’s defense team also tried to portray the protesters as inciting violence.
In the closing statement, Rittenhouse’s lawyer Mark Richards called Rosenbaum-the first person to be shot during the protests-a “thug” and “lunatic” who hunted Rittenhouse. .
Richards said: “Mr. Rosenbaum was shot because he was chasing my client and intended to kill him, picking up his gun and carrying out the threats he made,” he added, and Rittenhouse was subsequently killed. Here comes the attack of the “thugs”.
Rittenhouse defended himself during the trial and said in dramatic testimony that he was worried that his life would be in danger on the night of the fatal shooting. “I did not intend to kill them. I intend to stop those who attacked me,” he told the court.
After Rittenhouse began to sob and recalled the events that led to the shooting, the judge was forced to order the suspension of the proceedings.
During the trial, the prosecution was frustrated, and the judge dismissed the allegation that Rittenhouse minors had guns.
Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, who has been watching the trial, said that the acquittal seems to depend on the definition of self-defense in Wisconsin law and the jury’s interpretation of the video of the incident.
Rossi told Al Jazeera that the defense’s second-by-second analysis of the video and Rittenhouse’s own testimony proved to be the key to winning the acquittal.
“The jury must strongly believe that Mr. Rittenhouse did not sufficiently provoke the reaction of the deceased victim and that he has the right to defend himself,” he said.
But Rittenhouse’s critics point to the overall picture of assessing the role of the now innocent defendant in the murder. “The micro-details of the Rittenhouse case are not important,” the left-wing advocacy organization Gravel Institute said in a tweet.
“The important thing is that the system believes it must pass them in such a detailed and cautious manner. Has it ever provided this leeway for millions of people who carry drugs, shoplifters, or violate parole regulations?”