A look at the key points of Kyle Rittenhouse’s testimony

MADISON, Wisconsin (Associated Press) – Kyle Rittenhouse stood at trial Wednesday, witnessing how he shot three men during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.

Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Hopper and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz. He faces multiple charges, including premeditated murder. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, argued that the men attacked him and fired in self-defense.

Here is a look at some of the highlights of his testimony:

“Teen Unusual Things”

Rittenhouse said he lived in Antioch, Illinois, just across the state line from Kenosha, in August 2020. He enjoyed swimming, going to the beach with his friends, and “just normal teen stuff.” He was a police explorer in the Grayslake Police Department and a student in the Antioch Fire Department. He was also a certified lifeguard and trained in CPR, defibrillator use, and Basic Life Support. He said that his father, grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousin lived in Kenosha – apparently in an attempt to respond to the prosecution’s portrayal of him as a stranger who went there in search of trouble.

Why did he go to Kenosha?

The protests began on August 23, 2020, hours after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a black man, during a domestic disturbance. Rittenhouse said he saw a video on social media of the unrest.

Two days later, Rittenhouse went to downtown Kenosha and volunteered to clean up graffiti from a high school. He met the owners of a car dealership where cars were burned, offered his “condolences” and said he wanted help. He said the angel asked his friend to protect their business, and that he joined his friend and others that night. He took his semi-automatic rifle and first aid supplies. He gave his bulletproof vest – which he said came from the Grayslake Police Department – to a friend. He said he felt he wouldn’t need it “because I’m going to help people.”

What did he say about his interviews with Rosenbaum?

Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum threatened his life twice.

He said he was putting out fires and asking people if they needed medical help when he saw Rosenbaum carrying a steel chain and wearing a mask. He said Rosenbaum started yelling at him.

“He was angry about something. He’s yelling, ‘If I catch any of you (expletive) I’ll just kill you (expletive)’.

When he met Rosenbaum again later, Rosenbaum exclaimed, “I will cut out your hearts (expletive) and kill you,” Rittenhouse said.

Later, he was walking with a fire extinguisher after he heard protesters were burning cars in one of the lots his friends were trying to protect. Rittenhouse said he saw a truck on fire in one of the lots and was then approached by Joshua Ziminsky with a pistol. Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum got out from behind some cars and “ambushed him”.

He said he tried to escape but Rosenbaum chased after him while Szyminsky shouted “Kill him” and “Kill him”. Rosenbaum threw a sack at him that he thought was a chain. Rittenhouse said he aimed his gun at Rosenbaum, but Rosenbaum did not stop. Rittenhouse said he heard a gunshot behind him and “I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun.”

He said he shot four times, went up to Rosenbaum to see if he could help him, and then ran away because people were yelling “Get his ass, get him.”

What happened during his trip?

Rittenhouse said Hopper hit him in the neck with a skateboard and someone hit him in the back of the head with a stone, causing him to trip. A man tried to kick him in the face after he fell. He shot that guy twice, but he missed. Rittenhouse said he feared the man “may tread on my face.”

Hopper hit him in the neck again with the skateboard and grabbed his rifle.

“I can feel the belt exploding from my body,” he said. “I fired one shot.”

In the next moment, Grosskreutz ran up to him. He lowered his rifle as Grosskreutz raised his hands in a “surrender” motion. Rittenhouse said Grosskreutz had a revolver and when Rittenhouse lowered his gun Grosskreutz pointed the gun straight at my head. He fired once, hitting Grosskreutz in the arm.

What did he say about his dealings with the police?

Rittenhouse testified that after he shot Grosskreutz he approached a row of police cars with his hands up.

“People were screaming and I was just trying to reach the police,” he said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I stood up for myself.”

He climbed into a squad car and told an officer that he had just shot someone. He said, “The officer said ‘Go back (expletive) or the pepper will be sprayed’ and ‘Go home, go home, go home’.”

He said he turned himself in at the Antioch police station about an hour later because Kenosha station was fortified. He said the officers made him sit on a chair and wait for the Kenosha interrogators to arrive.

“I was vomiting and having panic attacks and my head was spinning,” he said. “I couldn’t think clearly.”

What did he say about his mental state?

The state of mind of the defendant is critical in a self-defense case. He must show that he reasonably believed that his life was in danger and that the amount of force he used was appropriate to win innocence. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger pressed Rittenhouse about his intentions while questioning witnesses, asking if he intended to kill the three men.

I didn’t intend to kill them. “I intended to stop people attacking me,” Rittenhouse said.

Did Rittenhouse keep his composition?

His youth sparkled, for example, when he referred to lawyers with “You guys.” He would often point with his arms, mimicking how Rosenbaum had come to him, how Groskreutz had raised his hands with a pistol and how he walked toward the police with his hands up.

When he was describing how Rosenbaum showed up and chased after him, he broke down in tears, and Judge Bruce Schroeder called for a break.

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