Rittenhouse Prosecutors Had A Very Bad Week

Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool

Prosecutors in Kenosha, Wisconsin haven’t rested yet, but they’ve yet to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kyle Rittenhouse was in fear for his life when he shot and killed two men and injured a third during a night of chaotic protests, riots, and looting last August. In fact, at several points in the trial’s first week, the District Attorney’s team elicited testimony from their own witnesses that bolster Rittenhouse’s argument that he was acting in self-defense.

During opening arguments, Assistant D.A. Thomas Bingham declared that he would be able to demonstrate conclusively that Rittenhouse initiated the confrontation with Joseph Rosenbaum that led to Rosenbaum’s death, along with the fatal shooting of Anthony Huber and wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz moments later. That “evidence” turned out to be FBI surveillance video that, far from showing Rittenhouse as the aggressor, revealed Rosenbaum crouched behind a car before running after the teen.

Video shows Rittenhouse shouting “friendly, friendly, friendly” moments before Rosenbaum stormed towards him, and several eyewitnesses testified to Rosenbaum’s aggression that night.

Richie McGinniss, who was recording events on a cellphone that night for the conservative website The Daily Caller, testified that Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man shot that night, was killed after chasing down Rittenhouse and making a lunge for the gun.

“I think it was very clear to me that he was reaching specifically for the weapon,” McGinniss said.

Ryan Balch, a former Army infantryman who carried an AR-style rifle that night and walked around patrolling the streets with Rittenhouse, testified that Rosenbaum was “hyperaggressive and acting out in a violent manner,” including trying to set fires and throwing rocks.

Balch said he got between Rosenbaum and another man while Rosenbaum was trying to start a fire, and Rosenbaum got angry, shouting, “If I catch any of you guys alone tonight I’m going to f—- kill you!”

Balch said that Rittenhouse was within earshot and that he believed the threat was aimed at both of them.

Remember, these are witnesses for the prosecution here. Far from portraying Kyle Rittenhouse as a bloodthirsty sociopath who went to Kenosha to rack up a body count, the image that has emerged is a teenager who, rightly or wrongly, headed to Kenosha with the intention of protecting businesses and rendering aid. Was it a good idea? Probably not. But there’s been absolutely no evidence put forward by prosecutors that demonstrates Rittenhouse went to Kenosha with violent intent. Instead, it’s been a steady stream of witnesses saying stuff like this.

The first man shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse on the streets of Kenosha was acting “belligerently” that night but did not appear to pose a serious threat to anyone, a witness testified Friday at Rittenhouse’s murder trial.

Jason Lackowski, a former Marine who said he took an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to Kenosha last year to help protect property during violent protests against racial injustice, said Joseph Rosenbaum “asked very bluntly to shoot him” and took a few “false steppings … to entice someone to do something.”

Lackowski got up from the witness stand and demonstrated what he called “false stepping.” He took a small step and slight lurch forward, then stopped.

But Lackowski, who was called as a witness by the prosecution, said he viewed Rosenbaum as a “babbling idiot” and turned his back and ignored him.

His testimony showed a contrast between how the experienced military veteran viewed Rosenbaum and earlier testimony that Rittenhouse — who was 17 at the time — may have perceived Rosenbaum as a threat.

Or his testimony shows how Rosenbaum’s aggression and belligerence got worse throughout the evening. Rosenbaum may never have posed a threat to Lackowski’s life during their interaction, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t pose a threat to Kyle Rittenhouse later that night.

Lackowski, believe it or not, was one of the prosecution’s best witnesses, which says a lot about the weakness of the case against Rittenhouse presented so far. I’ve said all along that based on what I’ve seen to date, I believe that Kyle Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense but was willing to keep an open mind after seeing what prosecutors laid out. I’m still watching, and still waiting for any evidence that would lead me to believe Rittenhouse committed murder instead of a series of justifiable acts of self-defense that began with Joseph Rosenbaum’s unprovoked attempt to assault the teen and take his rifle after having earlier declared that he would kill him if he found him alone.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET