Chicago (CBS) – More than a week after hearing testimony at his trial regarding the shooting of three people during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, Kyle Rittenhouse took the stage in his own defense on Wednesday.
Prosecutors spent the past week trying to portray Rittenhouse as a reckless teenage guard who put himself in a situation where he didn’t belong, with the defense responding that Rittenhouse, then 17, was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph. Rosenbaum, Anthony Hopper and Jerha Gage Grosskruts.
“He would have stepped in my face if I hadn’t shot,” Rittenhouse said.
Rittenhouse testified that Hopper then hit him again with his skateboard, shooting Hopper, then lowering his weapon.
He said it when Grosskreutz darted towards him, “with his gun right at my head.”
Rittenhouse said Grosskreutz was close enough to him that their feet were touching.
“Pistol in hand,” he testified, “and then Mr Grosskreutz looked at me, and that’s when Mr Grosskreutz put his arm down.” “He aimed his gun at me, and shot him once.”
Rittenhouse testified that he no longer saw Grosskreutz as a threat at that point, and someone else who was there raised his hands and retreated, so he threw down his rifle, and continued walking toward the nearby police officers to turn himself in.
“I raised my hand,” he said, “and as I walk toward the police, I can’t hear anything.” “I remember I would occasionally move around to put my rifle behind me…so the police didn’t consider me a threat.”
Rittenhouse said he approached a police car to tell the officers he had shot someone, but an officer told him, “Get it back, or you’ll be pepper sprayed. Go home. Go home. Go home.”
So Rittenhouse went back to the Car Source a lot, as someone let him in.
“I’m in shock, I don’t really remember what was going on there,” he said. “I was freaking out.”
Because the Kenosha police station was closed with barricades, Rittenhouse said, he decided to go back to his home in Antioch, then he and his mother went to the Antioch police station so he could turn himself in.
He said he was allowed to wait at the police station without handcuffing until two detectives came to interrogate him.
“I was vomiting and having panic attacks,” he said.
During interrogation, prosecutors repeatedly asked Rittenhouse whether he had intentionally used lethal force, and was trying to kill the people he shot.
I didn’t intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me. I did what I had to do to stop them from attacking me,” Rittenhouse testified.
Rittenhouse previously testified that he went to Kenosha on August 25, 2020, after watching videos online of the widespread unrest in Kenosha sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
“I saw videos on social media, on Facebook Live, TikTok. I saw a burning CarSource. I saw a police officer being assaulted. I threw a brick on his head,” he said.
He went to downtown Kenosha on the morning of the shooting to clean up graffiti from outside the school building. # Rittenhouse
Rittenhouse said he spent part of the shooting morning cleaning up graffiti at a local high school.
He also described how he and his friend, Dominic Black, spoke to the owners of a used car yard they had patrolled later that night. He said the owner of Car Source had given him permission to be there, and they were grateful for the armed group’s presence there to protect the property.
Rittenhouse, who said he was a firefighter/EMT trainee, said he bought two of the cranes that night, so he could easily treat people without having to leave his gun behind.
He said he also brought a flak jacket, which he said was given to him by the Grayslake Police Department, but he gave it to a friend after arriving in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse said he helped provide first aid to a woman who had injured her ankle, and a man who had fallen ill from a homemade “chemical bomb” thrown near a parking lot.