by Michael Tarm, Scott Bauer and Amy Forlitti
Kenosha, Wis. (AP) — A protester and volunteer medic wounded on the streets of Kenosha by Kyle Rittenhouse testified Monday that he was pointing his gun at the rifle-toting Rittenhouse when the young man shot him.
During a night of turbulent racial-justice protests in the summer of 2020, Gage Grosskretz, the third and last man with a rifle by Rittenhouse, took the stand at Rittenhouse’s murder trial and described how he pulled out his pistol to try to stop him. Bloodshed.
“I thought the defendant was an active shooter,” said Grosskretz, 27. Asked what was going through his mind when he approached the 17-year-old Rittenhouse, he said, “I was about to die.”
Rittenhouse shot and seriously injured him in the arm, tearing most of Grosskretz’s biceps.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger asked Grosskretz why he had not fired earlier.
“I’m not that kind of person. That’s why I wasn’t out,” he said. “It’s not who I am. And certainly not someone I want to be.”
But under cross-examination by one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, Grosskretz answered “correctly” when asked whether his pistol was pointed at Rittenhouse just before he was shot.
Rittenhouse, now 18, is being tried on charges of murdering two men and injuring Grosskretz. The young cadet, a one-time police from Antioch, Illinois, went to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an attempt to protect property from the damaging demonstrations that took place during the shooting. Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.
Prosecutors have portrayed Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed. His lawyers have argued that he acted in self-defense. If convicted of the most serious charges against him, he could face life imprisonment.
Grosskretz said that he went to the streets of Kenosha that night to work as a volunteer medic in protest. Grosskretz said he was wearing a cap that read “Paramedic” and was carrying medical supplies in addition to a loaded pistol.
Grosskretz said that his permit to carry a concealed weapon had expired and that he did not have a valid permit that night.
“I believe in the Second Amendment. I am for the right of the people to carry and bear arms,” he said, explaining why he was armed. “And that night was no different from any other day. It’s keys, phone, wallet, gun.”
He said he swung into action after seeing Rittenhouse kill a man just a few feet away—the other man Rittenhouse fatally shot that night.
At cross-examination, defense attorney Corey Chirafisi sought to portray Grosskretz as dishonest in his description of the moments just before the shooting, with Chirafisi insisting that Grosskratz was chasing Rittenhouse with his gun.
Grosskretz denied that he was following Rittenhouse and said that he was concerned about Rittenhouse’s safety as others followed him and someone tried to kick him.
Chirafisi also pointed to Grosskretz’s lawsuit against the city of Kenosha, in which he alleged that police enabled violence by allowing an armed militia to run through the streets during a demonstration.
“If Mr. Rittenhouse is to blame, your chances of getting 10 million bucks are better, right?” Chirafisi said.
At the defense table, Rittenhouse kept his eyes on Grosskretz as he testified, when the witness talked about the moment he was shot.
Earlier that night, Grosskretz was recording for a livestream on his cellphone when he heard gunshots a few blocks away. He heard people shouting for a medicine, and started running towards the sound of gunfire.
Video played in court showed Grosskretz arriving at Rittenhouse as Rittenhouse was on the run. He asked her what Rittenhouse was doing and if anyone had been shot. Rittenhouse replied: “I’m going to the police. I didn’t do anything.” At the time, Grosskretz testified, he thought Rittenhouse said, “I’m dealing with the police.”
Grosskretz ran with Rittenhouse for a few seconds, then rushed to help whoever was shot. But then Grosskretz turned back to Rittenhouse because he heard people say that Rittenhouse had shot someone.
A juror nodded his head in agreement when the judge directed the jury to disregard what Groskretz referred to as “murder,” the fatal shooting of another demonstrator at Rittenhouse. “
Grosskretz, who was trained as a paramedic, testified that he volunteered as a medic at protests in Milwaukee in the days following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. participated from. Grosskretz said he participated in about 75 protests the night before. was shot, offering help to anyone in need of medical attention.
He said he provided medical aid to about 10 other people that night in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse is white, as is the case with the three men he shot, but the case has sparked fierce debates about racial justice, police, vigilance and the right to bear arms.
In the first week of Rittenhouse’s trial, witnesses testified that the first man to shoot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, had acted “overly aggressive” and “combatively” that night and threatened to kill Rittenhouse at one point. .
A witness said Rosenbaum was shot after pursuing Rittenhouse and the young man had lunges for his rifle.
Rosenbaum’s murder set in motion the bloodshed that took place moments later: Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old protester seen on bystander video, hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. Rittenhouse then injured Grosskretz.
If found guilty, Rittenhouse could face a life sentence.
Grosskretz has a tattoo on his arm where he was shot. This is the typical medical image of a snake wrapped around a staff, and has a banner at the top that says “Do no harm” and a banner at the bottom that says “Know the harm”.
When the prosecutor played a graphic video of Grosskretz’s badly injured arm, some jurors looked away from the monitors in the courtroom.
Grosskretz testified that he had difficulty lifting heavy objects with his right hand and a loss of feeling extending from his biceps to his thumb.
Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin; Forlity from Minneapolis.
Get the AP’s full coverage on Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse