The verdict was announced around noon on November 19, 2021. Jurors acquitted Rittenhouse on all of the charges against him.
The news broke about 45 minutes before the verdicts were read when Kenosha police sent out an email to law enforcement officers revealing that there was a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
You can read the email here without the source’s identifying information. It was sent by Daniel S. Bandi of the Kenosha Police Department. In addition, Rebecca Matoska-Mentink, clerk of the circuit court in Kenosha County, informed the media that a verdict would be announced.
It was then announced: not guilty.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers released a lengthy statement on the verdict.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rittenhouse Broke Down in Tears When the Verdict Was Reached
Rittenhouse, 18, broke down in tears and hugged his lawyer when the verdict was announced. He appeared to be shaking as they were announced.
The teenager was charged in the deaths of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum after nights of protests, riots, and arson fires, in Kenosha, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The police officer who shot Blake was later exonerated by the District Attorney, Mike Graveley.
That DA did not prosecute the Rittenhouse case, handing it over to his underlings, assistant district attorneys Thomas Binger and Jim Kraus.
The jury deliberated into a fourth day, raising speculation that a hung jury might be forthcoming. But they reached a verdict on Friday morning.
The pool reporter in the courtroom on November 19, 2021, said there weren’t many updates to report shortly before the verdict was announced. “Judge Bruce Schroeder’s clerk told reporters here in court that she hasn’t heard anything about jurors declining to order lunch,” Michael Tarm, of the Associated Press, wrote in an email to media outlets in the pool.
He added: “A court official confirms jurors are in. They are presumed deliberating. Judge Bruce Schroeder walked in a few minutes ago, lugging a six pack of Pepsi. He just sat on the bench for a previously schedule court call. No sign Rittenhouse lawyers or prosecutors. No buzz in the courtroom that anything is immediately afoot on Rittenhouse’s case.”
2. The Jurors Have Sent Several Notes to the Judge
There have been a few clues about what jurors are thinking; they sent some notes to the judge. They were sent in the handwriting of a female juror known as “juror 54.”
One note asked for the drone video and a series of other pieces of evidence that may indicate they are scrutinizing the provocation argument closely. They also asked for an FBI infrared video that was shown in court.
Other notes showed jurors wanted to see video relating to the shooting of Grosskreutz, who testified that he pointed a gun at Rittenhouse while advancing toward him at close distance because he believed he was an active shooter.
A juror asked the judge on November 18, 2021, if the jurors could take the jury instructions home and were told yes.
The jury was selected from Kenosha County. There have been several incidents involving the jurors. The judge previously revealed in court that a person was accused of trying to videotape jurors as they got on a bus, and he kicked MSNBC out of the courtroom for an incident relating to the jury bus as well.
3. The Trial Featured Dramatic Videos That Captured the Shootings
Many witnesses, even those called by the prosecution, didn’t seem to help the state’s case. Under Wisconsin law, the defense needed to show that Rittenhouse reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm at the time he fired. Witnesses testified that Rittenhouse was being chased, attacked with a skateboard, had a gun pointed at him, and other elements that made the defense case.
Videos were the centerpiece of the trial as live streamers and drone videos captured the shootings. You can see a round-up of the key photos and videos in the case here.
Trial testimony showed Rittenhouse went to Kenosha that day to work as a lifeguard. He cleaned graffiti off a public building and then took a rifle he kept at a local friend’s house to guard a local business named Car Source, whose other outlet was destroyed by arsonists in the days before. In contrast, jurors heard many descriptions from witnesses and videos of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man shot, getting into verbal altercations, acting belligerent, and even using a racial slur throughout the night.
Trial testimony indicated that Rittenhouse went to Car Source with a Kenosha friend. Rittenhouse’s father lived in Kenosha as did extended family. They hung out with other people who came from around Wisconsin to help guard the business as well, some of them combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. But Rittenhouse did not know them before that night, testimony showed.
4. Rittenhouse Shot Three Men That Night; Two Died
As the night progressed, fights and other arson firesbroke out in the streets of Kenosha. Rittenhouse was walking back to a Car Source outlet, when, video shows, Joseph Rosenbaum, a convicted child molester with an open assault case, chased Rittenhouse into the corner of a car lot. Richie McGinniss, a journalist with the Daily Caller, was running behind Rosenbaum and testified that Rosenbaum reached for Rittenhouse’s gun. The medical examiner testified that Rosenbaum was no more than four feet from Rittenhouse when Rittenhouse opened fire. Rosenbaum’s hand was either touching or very close to Rittenhouse’s gun, a medical examiner testified, but he said a hand wound was shot two.
Rosenbaum died at the scene. Prosecutors had tried to argue that Rittenhouse provoked the Rosenbaum chase by pointing a gun at an armed man named Joshua Ziminski. Ziminski was never called to the stand; he is facing arson and other charges stemming from that night. He, both sides say, fired a gun in the air right before Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. The defense claimed prosecutors gave them a lesser quality video of the one they used in their provocation arguments. They also denied that Rittenhouse pointed his gun at Ziminski. The prosecution’s exhibits were, in some cases, very blurry on this point.
Provocation would not have excluded Rittenhouse from having a right to self-defense, but did require that he exhausted all avenues for escape and gave Rosenbaum adequate notice that he was doing so. However, the video showed he was running away until cornered near cars with vandals on the other side.
After shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse ran down the street in the direction of a police line. A crowd began to run after him with people identifying him as a shooter. He fell in the street. At that point, a man called Jump Kick Man ran and delivered a kick, possibly to his head, and Anthony Huber ran toward him with a skateboard, hitting him with it, and defense attorneys argued, trying to grab Rittenhouse’s gun.
Gaige Grosskreutz, an affiliate of the People’s Revolution group and a medic, then approached Rittenhouse. He testified that he pointed a gun at Rittenhouse while advancing toward him at close range, even though he was a prosecution witness. Rittenhouse shot him in his bicep. However, defense attorneys presented a photo they said showed Grosskreutz pointing the gun at Rittenhouse. Prosecutors argued his arm was dangling because he was shot, but, again, he admitted pointing the gun on the stand.
Prosecutors argued that the crowd had a right to stop what prosecutor Thomas Binger called an “active shooter.”
Rittenhouse then ran down the street and tried to surrender to police, who didn’t realize he was the shooter. He later turned himself in at Antioch, Illinois.
5. Rittenhouse Dramatically Broke Down on the Stand
It’s always a gamble to call a defendant to the stand, but it paid off in this trial. Rittenhouse broke down crying on the witness stand on November 10, 2021, sobbing in court as he recounted the first shooting, of Joseph Rosenbaum. This may have humanized him with jurors.
Rittenhouse testified that he defended himself when Rosenbaum started chasing him toward a car outlet parking lot. Rosenbaum threw a plastic bad at him. A medical examiner previously testified that Rosenbaum was shot four times; the first wound, to the hip, came when Rosenbaum was no more than four feet from Rittenhouse and possibly closer. The second shot came to Rosenbaum’s hand. Soot indicated that Rosenbaum was either in contact with the gun with his hand or very close to it when shot. The third and fourth shots, to the head and back, came when Rosenbaum was in a horizontal position almost like Superman, Dr. Douglas Kelley testified. The chase is seen on video.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” he testified.
He added, “I brought the gun to protect myself.” Rittenhouse said he thought the bag Rosenbaum threw at him was a chain that Rosenbaum was carrying earlier in the night (he’s been photographed holding it earlier.)
“I didn’t know if it was going to kill them, but I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me, Rittenhouse said.
Rittenhouse was also asked about the other two shootings. Gaige Grosskreutz was shot and lived. “My rifle is down. His hands are up. His pistol is in his hand, and then he looks at me, and that’s when he brings his arm down…like his arm is like that with me on the ground and his pistol is pointed at me,” Rittenhouse testified about the moment he shot him.
“That’s when I shoot him.” Grosskreutz testified before the prosecution rested and admitted on the witness stand that he was pointing a gun at Rittenhouse from three-five feet away and was advancing toward Rittenhouse when Rittenhouse shot him. He also testified that he feared for Rittenhouse’s safety from Huber, who was hitting him with a skateboard after rushing toward him.
Grosskreutz testified that he believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter. After shooting Rosenbaum first, Rittenhouse had run down the street, testimony indicates toward the police, but he fell in the middle of the street. That’s when Huber rushed him, and then Grosskreutz approached. Those shootings are on video.
“As I’m running past Mr. Huber, he’s holding a skateboard like a baseball bat and he swings it down and I block it with my arm trying to prevent it from hitting me, but it still hits me in the neck. And as I block it, it goes flying somewhere off into the distance,” Rittenhouse said. “As I’m on the ground, there are people around me, I don’t recall how many, but I remember moving my rifle in their direction and they back off besides one person.” The defense introduced a photo they say shows Huber making contact with Rittenhouse’s gun. They are arguing Huber and Rosenbaum were trying to disarm Rittenhouse.
He also described a kick from a man called “jump kick man,” by prosecutors, who is seen on video rushing him.
“As his boot is making contact with my face, I fire two shots at him,” Rittenhouse said.
“Why did you shoot at him?” defense attorney Mike Richards asked.
“He would have stomped my face in if I didn’t fire,” Rittenhouse replied.