KENOSHA, Wi. – Kyle Rittenhouse has been acquitted of all charges after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism, and racial injustice.
Rittenhouse, 18, could have gotten life in prison if found guilty of the most serious charge against him. He was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and recklessly endangering safety for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle.
The shootings took place during a night of protests over police violence against Black people in the tumultuous summer of 2020. Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot. The jury appeared to be overwhelmingly white.
Missouri Republican US Senate candidate Mark McCloskey has been outside the courthouse during the trial. He and his wife Patricia waved firearms at protesters outside their St. Louis home in June 2020. It also led to the suspension of the couple’s law licenses and misdemeanor charges. They were eventually pardoned by Missouri Governor Mike Parson.
The incident also caught the nation’s attention. The attorney spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention and then sparked a run for the US Senate.
“I’m out here in Wisconsin to uphold the Second Amendment, to support Kyle Rittenhouse, and to highlight what happens when the government abdicates its duty to defend its honest citizens against mob action. This whole situation, Kyle Rittenhouse would not have to do what he did if the local authorities had prevented instead of standing back and permitting the mob action he was trying to help with,” said Mark McCloskey.
The anonymous jury, which appeared to be overwhelmingly white, deliberated for close to 3 1/2 days.
Rittenhouse could have gotten life in prison if found guilty on the most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide, or what some other states call first-degree murder. Two other charges each carried over 60 years behind bars.
“That this jury was able to stand up against the media, the onslaught of lies against Kyle Rittenhouse. The president, the vice president, and everyone else’s lies about Kyle Rittenhouse. Listen to the evidence and apply the law as instructed by the court and come out with a correct verdict. I think it is a great day for America, it is a great day for individual liberty,” said Mark McCloskey.
While some Americans condemned Rittenhouse as a vigilante, some on the right hailed him as a hero who exercised his Second Amendment gun rights and tried to put a stop to lawlessness.
In 2020 President Donald Trump said it appeared Rittenhouse had been “very violently attacked.” Supporters donated more than $2 million toward his legal defense.
“I think it sets the precedent that the Second Amendment is alive and well. That human beings have a God-given right to defend themselves. If you’re in a situation, unlike what the prosecution says, you don’t have to take a beating, you don’t have to submit to the mob. You can stand up to the mob and defend yourself and you have every right in this country to do so,” said Mark McCloskey.
Witnesses described Rosenbaum as “hyperaggressive” and said that he dared others to shoot him and threatened to kill Rittenhouse earlier that night. A videographer testified Rosenbaum lunged for the rifle just before he was shot, and a pathologist said his injuries appeared to indicate his hand was over the barrel.
Also, Rosenbaum’s fiancee disclosed that he was on medication for bipolar disorder and depression. Rittenhouse’s lawyers branded Rosenbaum a “crazy person.
“I’ll tell him one thing, his life will never be the same. Just the trauma of being a part of this event will permanently change his life. The notoriety, the publicity will trail him everywhere. That will be the most difficult thing for him to deal with,” said Mark McCloskey.