The prosecution in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial sparred in court Thursday with a witness, a Daily Caller videographer, over the final moments of the first man fatally shot by the teen at a street protest in August 2020.
Richie McGinnis, who caught the aftermath of the shooting on camera, testified that Joseph Rosenbaum was reaching for Rittenhouse’s weapon, an AR-15-style rifle, when he was first shot.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said McGinnis’ interpretation of Rosenbaum’s motives was “guesswork.”
“Well, [Rosenbaum] said, ‘Fuck you’ and reached for the weapon,” McGinnis responded.
The high-profile Rittenhouse trial heads into its fourth day on Friday. Rittenhouse, 18, is accused of intentionally killing Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during a protest last Aug. 25 against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, two days after a cop shot and partially paralyzed a Black man there. Rittenhouse also shot and injured Gaige Grosskreutz. The armed teen had traveled to the protests from Illinois in answer to a call to protect a car dealership. Rittenhouse is arguing that he shot the men out of self-defense. He has been charged with one count of first-degree reckless homicide, one count of first-degree intentional homicide, and one count of first-degree attempted intentional homicide, along with several lesser charges.
Binger and defense attorney Mark Richards cross-examined two witnesses Thursday. The first was McGinnis and the second was Ryan Balch, a militia member who’d spent time with Rittenhouse that evening. During the cross-examinations, a great many questions were about Rosenbaum and his actions shortly before Rittenhouse killed him.
Rittenhouse first shot Rosenbaum following an altercation in a parking lot then jogged away from the scene with his weapon. A crowd chased him and confronted him in the street, where he fell down. Rittenhouse shot and killed Huber, who was attempting to hit him with his skateboard, and also Grosskreutz, who was nearby. The defense says that Rittenhouse killed in self-defense, whereas the prosecution says he was an instigator to the bloodshed.
McGinnis caught several key moments of the Rosenbaum shooting on camera and was the first person to administer aid to the dying man.
During the questioning, Binger and McGinnis appeared to disagree if Rosenbaum was falling before he was shot or if he was reaching for Rittenhouse’s firearm. McGinnis said several times that it seemed like Rosenbaum was reaching for the weapon.
“It wasn’t clear to me if the weapon was going to be grabbed or fired, or what exactly was going to happen,” said McGinnis. “It was clear to me that it was likely that something dangerous was going to happen, be it Mr. Rosenbaum grabbing it or Mr. Rittenhouse shooting it.”
McGinnis looked visibly upset when the video he took of Rosenbaum’s final moments was played in court.
McGinnis’ time on the stand was followed by Balch, a veteran who said he went to Kenosha to protect private property. Balch said he’d met Rittenhouse that evening and thought he was “under-equipped and under-experienced,” so the more experienced people “stuck with him.” He described Rittenhouse as “too innocent for his own good.”
In one of the videos shown in court, which was filmed by McGinnis, Balch and Rittenhouse go into the crowd where Rittenhouse attempted to see if anyone needs medical attention.
Balch said that he encountered Rosenbaum earlier in the day, described him as “hyper-aggressive,” and that the protestors told him that Rosenbaum wasn't with them. He also claimed Rosenbaum was acting violently—although he admitted not to seeing him strike anyone. Balch said they came across Rosenbaum while walking with Rittenhouse and another militia member, he said after they put out a fire some protestors attempted to start, Rosenbaum yelled at them.
“‘If I catch you guys alone tonight, I’m going to fucking kill you,’” Balch said he remembered Rosenbaum yelling at them.
Both McGinnis and Balch said they did not see Rosenbaum with a weapon. While Balch wasn't there for the moment of the killings, he was there for the aftermath, and saw the body of Huber, and Grosskreutz getting medical attention. Another militia member who attended Kenosha with Balch will be cross-examined Friday.
At the start of Thursday’s court session, the judge dismissed a juror for making a joke about the Black man shot by police which sparked the BLM rally in Kenosha.
Interest in the case is immensely high with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, watching live streams of it. The trial has been polarizing and viewed through the lenses mirrored by the differing arguments. On the left, Rittenhouse is seen as a young man who was out looking for bloodshed in Kenosha that evening, whereas, on the right, he’s viewed as someone who killed in self-defense and in some far-right corners, Rittenhouse is actively treated as a hero.
The trial continues next week. Grosskreutz, the man who survived being shot by Rittenhouse, is expected to take the stand.
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