Kyle Rittenhouse Pushes Self-Defense Claim, Cries in Court During Testimony

Kyle Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, has argued that he acted in self-defense when killing two and injuring another during a protest in Kenosha.

Kyle Rittenhouse takes the stand.

Image via Getty/Mark Hertzberg-Pool

Kyle Rittenhouse takes the stand.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who’s charged with killing two men during a 2020 protest in Wisconsin, took the stand on Wednesday.

At one point, per the Associated Press, Rittenhouse started to cry, prompting the judge to order a pause in testimony. 

“I was asking people if they needed medical help as I was getting down there,” Rittenhouse said, as seen in the video below. From there, he claimed to have heard someone scream “Burn in hell!” while at the Kenosha protest, which had been spurred by police shooting Jacob Blake in the back.

“[Joseph Rosenbaum] was now running from my right side, um, and I was cornered from in front of me with [Joshua Ziminski] and there were, there were three people right there,” Rittenhouse said. And at this point, he started to cry, prompting the pause.

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Elsewhere, Rittenhouse alleged that Rosenbaum threatened to kill him and called him “the N-word.” Rittenhouse—who was 17 at the time—ultimately shot and killed Rosenbaum and another man by the name of Anthony Huber. Gaige Grosskreutz was injured by Rittenhouse, who had brought an AR-style rifle with him to the protest.

Later into Rittenhouse’s time on the stand on Wednesday, he was asked by the prosecution about his desire to own the rifle he used in the shootings. “I thought it looked cool, but, no,” Rittenhouse, whose friend bought the gun for him, said when asked if there was any other reason he selected the AR-15 style aside from not being able to lawfully possess a pistol.

Kyle Rittenhouse tells prosecution that he chose to have an AR-15 rifle because "it looked cool," and says he did not intend to use it for hunting or protecting his house

— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 10, 2021

Rittenhouse, a former member of a police cadet program, has argued that his actions were carried out in self-defense. “I didn’t intend to kill them, I intended to stop the people who were attacking me,” he said Wednesday.

After a break for lunch, Wednesday’s proceedings resumed with additional comments from Rittenhouse. Asked by the prosecution to clarify his claims about Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse agreed that Rosenbaum did not physically touch his body. “He didn’t touch me physically,” he said when asked to clarify further. Rosenbaum, the prosecution noted, also did not “chase” him or do anything physically aggressive to him. Rittenhouse agreed with these summations.

The handling of Rittenhouse’s killings has received widespread criticism, particularly in comparison to the repeated instances of violence being perpetrated against people of color, often at the hands of law enforcement.

In August of last year, for example, Rittenhouse’s actions were mentioned by ACLU of Louisiana executive director Alanah Odoms Hebert when addressing how law enforcement officials treated the case of Jace Boyd, who admitted to fatally shooting a Black panhandler outside of a Trader Joe’s grocery store. 

“While Black men like Jacob Blake are shot in the back for threats that are merely perceived, white men like Kyle Rittenhouse and Jace Boyd can gun people down in the street and still be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement,” Hebert said at the time.

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