Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand on Wednesday (Nov. 10) in his own defense and during his testimony, he broke down in tears as he described the incident in which he says he felt he was given no choice but to shoot three people, killing two.
The Antioch, Ill., man is charged with two counts of homicide for fatally shooting Anthony Huber, 26, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during a 2020 demonstration over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
At the time he was 17 and his attorneys argue that he was legally permitted to carry the AR-15 rifle he used in the shooting.
Under questioning from his attorney of the moments leading up to the shooting, he described being chased, ambushed by the crowd, which included Rosenbaum screaming threats at him, he said.
”I look over my shoulder, and Mr. Rosenbaum was now running from my right side, and I was cornered from...in front of me...There were people right there," Rittenhouse said, before breaking down.
Judge Bruce E. Schroeder called for a 10-minute recess before testimony began again.
In an effort to paint a picture of Rittenhouse as a helpful volunteer and not a killer, his attorney Mark Richards asked the now 18-year-old Rittenhouse questions about his efforts as a volunteer medic on Aug. 25, 2020, the night of the shooting, to assist people who had been tear-gassed during the protest, The New York Times reports. He said in his testimony to Richards that in the chaos, he was being chased by a crowd and had been cornered.
“I take a few steps, and that's when I turn around,” Rittenhouse said. “As I'm turning around, Mr. Rosenbaum is coming at me with his arms out in front of him. I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun."
“As you see him lunging at you, what do you do?" Richards asked.
"I shoot him," Rittenhouse replied.
Cross examination began soon after with prosecutor Thomas Binger questioning Rittenhouse.
"Everyone you shot at that night you intended to kill, correct?" Binger asked.
"I didn't intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me," Rittenhouse responded. "I didn't know if it was going to kill them, but I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me."
On Tuesday (Nov. 9), the prosecution rested its case after playing a new drone video that shows footage of Rittenhouse allegedly shooting the first of three men, local Milwaukee station WDJT reported.
The state’s crime lab was able to zoom in and slow down the video that it obtained on Friday. It purports to show Rittenhouse shooting Rosenbaum multiple times at close range. Rosenbaum died from his wounds.
It also shows Rosenbaum following Rittenhouse before Rittenhouse suddenly spins around and fires. The defense team argues that Rosenbaum charged at Rittenhouse and tried to take his gun.
Rittenhouse said previously that he traveled with an assault rifle from his home in Illinois to Kenosha to protect property from people protesting the police shooting of Blake.
Prosecutors accused Rittenhouse of setting the violence in motion by confronting a protester and then shooting him in the back, according to The Associated Press.
Rittenhouse’s legal team countered he acted in self-defense when Rosenbaum tried to grab his gun while others assaulted him.
In surprising testimony on Nov. 7, the lone survivor took the stand and revealed he was pointing a gun at Rittenhouse.
According to the Associated Press, Grosskreutz, a protester and volunteer medic, admitted to unintentionally pointing a gun at Rittenhouse.
“I thought the defendant was an active shooter,” Grosskreutz said on the stand. He also said as Rittenhouse got closer, the 27-year-old thought he “was going to die.”
Rittenhouse fired at Grosskreutz, shooting into his arm, tearing apart his bicep.
During cross-examination, Rittenhouse’s defense lawyer asked, "It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him — that he fired, right?"
Grosskreutz agreed but insisted that it was unintentional.