The verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial is in. After 26 hours of deliberation, the primarily-white jury found the teen not guilty in all counts related to his killings of two people and the wounding of a third during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
As the verdict was announced, Rittenhouse reportedly cried and embraced his lawyers while his supporters cheered on the courthouse steps. Relatives of the late victims sobbed in disbelief. Meanwhile, Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, accused authorities of racism. “We’re going to continue to fight and we’re going to continue to be peaceful. Let freedom ring,” he told The New York Times.
Rittenhouse was previously charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree homicide and two counts of reckless endangerment. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed an illegal gun possession charge against him ahead of deliberations.
All charges stemmed from the teen’s actions during the unrest that followed the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake. He shot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz during the violent demonstration; only Grosskreutz survived.
He said that he was providing first aid during the protest when Rosenbaum “threatened to kill me twice,” chased him and threw a plastic bag in his direction. Huber, the teen added, attacked him with a skateboard. To defend himself, Rittenhouse pulled the trigger but he claimed that he “didn’t intend” to kill anyone.
“I didn’t intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me,” he said. “I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me.”
Prosecutors argued, however, that the teen was the only “imminent threat.”
“The defense’s whole case has been trying to stoke sympathy for Mr. Rittenhouse and showing how everybody else was a terrible person,” Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney James Kraus previously said. “It is not up for Mr. Rittenhouse to be the judge, the jury and eventually, the executioner.”