The lawyers representing a Black man in Milwaukee who fatally shot a White lawyer last year plan to argue self-defense and use the same expert who testified for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old acquitted in November for killing two BLM protesters in Kenosha, Wisc.
Defense attorneys for Theodore Edgecomb said they plan to call the use-of-force expert John D. Black to the witness stand, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Black, who has a background in law enforcement, was a key defense witness for Rittenhouse who said he feared for his life before firing his assault rifle at a demonstration against police brutality.
Edgecombe, 31, and Jason Cleereman, 54, got into a traffic altercation that ended in Cleereman’s death. Edgecomb’s first-degree reckless homicide case is expected to start on Jan. 3, according to local NPR radio station WUWM.
On September 22, 2020, Edgecomb was riding a bicycle against traffic on a Milwaukee street when he passed Cleereman, who was a passenger in a car driven by his wife, Evanjelina Cleereman. She swerved to avoid hitting him, as Cleereman, an immigration lawyer, yelled something at Edgecomb.
Edgecomb circled back and approached the Cleeremans’ car at a red light. He rode to the open passenger window and argued with Cleereman before punching him in the face. Edgecomb rode away.
Surveillance video shows that Cleereman caught up with him several blocks away. Jason Cleereman gets out of the car and approaches Edgecomb, who fatally fires one shot at him.
The prosecutor said Edgecomb fled after the shooting to Florida and Kentucky, where he was arrested on March 4.
Jason Cleereman allegedly used a racial slur toward Edgecomb and tried to hit the cyclist with the car, which Cleereman’s family denied.
The couple had been drinking at a bar that night. Jason Cleereman had a blood-alcohol level of .12, as well as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system, the Sentinel reported, citing court records.
“We will say that we believe that this is a clear case of self-defense. And we look forward to and maintain confidence in our judicial system to establish the same,” WUWM quoted Edgecomb’s attorney B’Ivory Lamarr
Racial justice advocates want to see if the criminal justice system will give Edgecomb the same treatment that Rittenhouse, who is White, received in his acquittal.
“The question is, is self-defense reserved for certain individuals in this state? Would it have been better if this was during a protest or unrest? Would it be more clear-cut or better if an AR-15 was used? Theodore Edgecomb deserves the same right that Kyle Rittenhouse got,” activist Vaun Mayes stated at a December news conference, according to WUWM.