Does New Video Show Kyle Rittenhouse Acted In Self-Defense?

On Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson shared a new video of the chaotic events in Kenosha, Wisconsin that resulted in the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber that led the host to wonder if the video proves that Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old facing murder charges in the deaths of Rosenbaum and Huber, was acting in self-defense. (Warning: this video does contain footage of graphic violence)

The footage was provided to Carlson by L. Lin Wood, one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, and while it does contain some new video elements, I’m not sure it will change the minds of prosecutors. As my colleague Ed Morrissey explains at HotAir:

Carlson’s argument is pretty compelling, or at least the video evidence here is. It makes pretty clear that neither shooting incidents were started by Rittenhouse, which is one crucial element for a self-defense case, although it’s not the only element required. In both scenes, Rittenhouse was clearly running away, and in the second he had already been repeatedly assaulted. The alleged gunshot in the first confrontation immediately preceded Rittenhouse’s fire as men allegedly armed with blunt-force weapons ran up on Rittenhouse.

This still requires a couple of caveats — one in each direction. While we have what appears to be compelling evidence, what we don’t have is all of the evidence. In fact, we don’t even have proper foundation (yet) to ensure that this actually is evidence in the first shooting. (Res ipsa loquitor on the second incident, we can assume.) Just because a defense attorney claims it as such does not necessarily mean it’s so, after all.

All of that is true, but even the original charging documents filed by prosecutors don’t portray Rittenhouse as the initial aggressor in either shooting. According to the evidence filed by prosecutors, Rittenhouse was walking down the street when Rosenbaum began to chase him, with others quickly joining in. The video shared by Carlson on Tuesday night does contain some details that prosecutors left out of their charging documents; most notably the fact that an individual fired at least one shot into the air as he was running after Rittenhouse.

When Rittenhouse was cornered by Rosenbaum, he turned and began to raise the barrel of the rifle he was carrying. Witnesses quoted by the prosecution say that Rosenbaum then reached for the gun as Rittenhouse fired. In other words, there was already a strong case for self-defense based on the evidence submitted by prosecutors themselves.

If prosecutors charged Rittenhouse before seeing these videos, they rushed to judgment. If they charged Rittenhouse after seeing these videos, then some other motive than justice is in play here, especially in the second shootings where Rittenhouse was in the middle of an aggravated assault after attempting to retreat. And how they expect a jury to convict after watching these videos is beyond comprehension.

In fact, one has to wonder whether these charges will ever see a courtroom. Rittenhouse may have exercised poor judgment in entering a riot zone with a firearm, but that’s not the same thing as initiating a confrontation, nor is attempting to extinguish a fire started by arsonists. At some point, prosecutors are going to have to explain their charging decisions in light of this video evidence, and that will not be a comfortable experience, either in court or among their constituents.

My suspicion is that prosecutors filed charges against Rittenhouse as insurance against further riots and destruction in Kenosha on the part of far-Left agitators. Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Rittenhouse wasn’t acting in self-defense was always going to be a stretch, but charging him with murder allowed prosecutors to claim that they were getting tough on the violence in the city, while sending a message to both sides to leave their guns at home if they were going out to protest.

Rittenhouse’s extradition hearing is set for this Friday, but it’s not likely that the hearing will provide either prosecutors or Rittenhouse’s attorneys much of a chance to argue over the evidence in the case. That won’t happen until Rittenhouse’s preliminary hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. During that hearing, however, prosecutors are going to have to convince a judge that there’s probable cause to charge Rittenhouse with murder, and even with the lower standard of proof, I think that there’s a good chance Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims may prevail.