Rittenhouse collapses as not guilty verdict is read
Teenage defendant Kyle Rittenhouse collapsed in tears on Friday (November 19) after a jury acquitted him on all charges relating to his fatal shooting of two men and wounding of a third with a semi-automatic rifle during chaotic 2020 racial justice protests in Wisconsin, determining that the teenager acted in self-defense.
A 12-member jury found Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty on two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide and two counts of recklessly endangering safety during street protests marred by arson, rioting and looting on Aug. 25, 2020 in the working-class city of Kenosha.
Rittenhouse broke down sobbing after the verdict, which came shortly after the judge warned the courtroom to remain silent or be removed.
The teenager’s trial polarized America, highlighting gaping divisions in U.S. society around contentious issues like gun rights. Amid a heavy law enforcement presence, several dozen protesters lined the steps outside the courthouse after the verdict was read, some carrying placards in support of Rittenhouse and others expressing disappointment.
Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and fired a bullet that tore a chunk off the arm of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28.
In reaching their verdicts after more than three days of deliberations, the jury contended with duelling narratives from the defense and prosecution that offered vastly different portrayals of the teenager’s actions on the night of the shootings.
The defense argued that Rittenhouse had been repeatedly attacked and had shot the men in fear for his life. They said he was a civic-minded teenager who had been in Kenosha to protect private property after several nights of unrest in the city south of Milwaukee.
The unrest followed the police shooting of a Black man named Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.