Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Witness: Threat, lunge for gun from first Rittenhouse victim

by Amy Forlitti, Tammy Webber and Michael Turm

Kenosha, Wis. (AP) — The first man to be shot by Kyle Rittenhouse on the streets of Kenosha that night was “overly aggressive,” threatening to kill Rittenhouse and later lunging to his rifle just before the 17-year-old’s shooting, witnesses said Thursday. testified.

Testimony in the Rittenhouse murder trial came from two witnesses who were called to the stand by the prosecution, but often gave more favorable accounts for the defense in a politically polarizing case.

Rittenhouse, now 18, is accused of shooting three people, two of whom died in the summer of 2020. The aspiring police officer went to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit, he said. Attempts to protect property from violent protests erupted after a black man was shot by police.

Richie McGinnis, who had been recording events that night on a cellphone for the conservative website The Daily Caller, testified that Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person to be shot that night, was followed by Rittenhouse and making a lunge to the gun. was murdered.

“I think it was pretty clear to me that he was specifically reaching for the weapon,” McGinnis said.

Ryan Balch, a former Army infantryman who carried an AR-style rifle that night and was patrolling the streets with Rittenhouse, testified that Rosenbaum was “acting in an overly aggressive and violent manner”, including opening fire. And that involved trying to throw rocks.

Balch said that when Rosenbaum was trying to put out the fire, he got between Rosenbaum and another man, and Rosenbaum angrily shouted, “If I hold any of you alone tonight I’ll f – I’ll kill you!”

Balch said Rittenhouse was within earshot and believed the threat was aimed at both of them.

Prosecutors have portrayed Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed, while his lawyer has argued that he acted in self-defense, suggesting among other things that Rittenhouse had reason to fear having removed his weapon. and will be used against them.

The murder of 36-year-old Rosenbaum has emerged as one of the most important and controversial moments of the night. This is one of the few moments that are not clearly captured in the video.

In an effort to undo some of the damage done by his own witness, prosecutor Thomas Binger said McGinnis’ testimony was “absolute conjecture” about what Rosenbaum was intending to do.

“Is not it?” He asked.

“Well,” replied McGinnis, “he said, ‘F– you.’ And then he reached for the weapon.”

But McGinnis also appeared to promote the prosecution’s case when he said he had a sense that something bad might have happened that night because of all the guns in the area. The prosecutor also obtained testimony from McGinnis and Balch that confirmed that Rosenbaum was not armed that night and had in fact not hurt anyone.

In his testimony, McGinnis said that as Rosenbaum limped, Rittenhouse “dodged around” with his weapon and then leveled and fired the gun.

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Binger repeatedly tried to tell McGinnis that Rosenbaum was not “lung” but “collapsed” when he was shot, as McGinnis said in a media interview days after the shooting.

But McGinnis said: “He was hissing, falling. I’d use them as synonyms in this situation because basically, you know, he threw his momentum toward the weapon.”

As prosecutors played footage of Rosenbaum mortally wounded in a car lot, McGinnis struggled to keep his balance on the stand, inhaling and exhaling rapidly, then staring his eyes at a video monitor. removed. The prosecutor apologized for playing it up, saying he had to.

Across the room, Rittenhouse appeared to look away from his desktop monitor and rolled his eyes down as the video showed Rosenbaum’s head bleeding, moaning loudly.

The defense also said that moments before the shooting of Rittenhouse began, someone in the crowd had shot, leading the young man to believe he was under attack.

Kenosha Detective Martin Howard testified that the video showed a protester, Joshua Ziminsky, fired the first shot into the air. Howard said he used a stopwatch and timed five or six videos to determine that 2.5 seconds later, Rittenhouse began firing at Rosenbaum.

Several videos have been played in the court, in which a series of violent demonstrations and shootings have been captured.

Rosenbaum’s shooting set in motion the bloodshed that followed moments later. Rittenhouse shot and killed 26-year-old Anthony Huber, a protester in Silver Lake, Wisconsin, who was seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard.

Rittenhouse wounded 27-year-old Gage Groskretz, a protester from West Allis, Wisconsin, with a gun in his hand, as he headed toward Rittenhouse.

Before testimony resumed on Thursday, the judge dismissed a jury that mocked a court security officer about the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the black man whose injuries triggered the Kenosha protests. . The jury member, a retired man, refused to repeat the joke for the judge.

“It is clear that the presence of bias exists and would seriously undermine the outcome of the case,” Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said.

Prosecutors also replayed a widely viewed video of the interview The Daily Caller had with Rittenhouse before the shooting.

It began with Rittenhouse, a former police youth cadet, in front of a boarded-up building, where he said he and the others were there “to protect this business, and that part of my job is to ensure that no one gets hurt.” I am running from the path of evil.” He also said that he was there to provide medical help.

Rittenhouse could face life imprisonment if convicted of a political and racial polarization charge that has sparked fierce debates over self-defense, vigilantism, the right to bear arms and racial unrest following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Other cases like this.


Forlity reported from Minneapolis; Weber reported from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writer Dave Kolpak contributed from Fargo, North Dakota.


Get the AP’s full coverage on Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial:

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