Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted of all charges

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Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted of all charges

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who in August 2020 shot and killed two men with an assault rifle in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, has today, Friday, November 19 been acquitted of all the charges against him. Ritterhouse had pleaded not guilty, claiming he acted in self defence.

The verdict came after a three-week trial, and a three-and-a-half-day wait while the jury of 18 people deliberated. When the jury handed their verdict, Judge Bruce Schroeder told the court, “The charges against the defendant on all counts are dismissed with prejudice, and he’s released from the obligation of his bond”.

Rittenhouse had been just 17 years of age at the time of the incident and had been charged with two counts of homicide, attempted homicide, and other felony charges. Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle, he killed  26-year-old Anthony Huber, and Joseph Rosenbaum, aged 36. Another person, 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz was also wounded by the gunfire.

The incident occurred after the shooting of Jacob Blake, aged 29, by police officers. Violent demonstrations had ensued for two days in Kenosha, as the police tried to control the crowds, even firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Among them, armed men wearing military-style combat outfits could be seen, observed pointing their weapons at hostile demonstrators.

It was into this scenario that the teenager finally entered, carrying his weapon. Prosecutors had tried to depict him as some kind of vigilante figure who wanted to put his weapon to good use.

Admitting that it was possibly true that the two men had confronted the teenager, prosecutors questioned his killing them, and that he maybe initiated the problem by raising his weapon to them. “I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me”, was Rittenhouse’s answer.

“By killing them?” Attorney Thomas Binger asked, to which Rittenhouse replied, “Two of them passed away but I stopped the threat from attacking me”. To this, Binger enquired, “By using deadly force?”.

The defendant responded, “I used deadly force. I didn’t know if it was going to kill them. But I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me. I didn’t notice Mr Rosenbaum until he came out from behind the car and ambushed me”, he added.

In his defence, Rittenhouse’s team portrayed the teenager as wanting to protect local businesses, including a used-car dealership, from any possible looting. They pointed out that he had been carrying a first-aid kit with him, as well as the weapon.

This high-profile case has divided the public in America. Those on the left see him as a result of gun culture gone wrong, while conservatives who advocate gun rights have hailed him as a hero, saying his actions were justified given the circumstances.

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