Law professor compares Rittenhouse to Oxford school shooter

Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP

They say history is written by the victors, but those who were desperately hoping to see Kyle Rittenhouse convicted of murder are doing their best to rewrite the facts surrounding his case. Of course, that narrative-crafting began long before Rittenhouse ever took the stand. From the moment it became public knowledge that he shot three men during the Kenosha riots, we’ve seen the left try to portray him as a white supremacist, militia member, vigilante, and villain.

The jury’s “not guilty” verdict has, if anything, led some folks to become even more determined to distort the facts surrounding Rittenhouse’s shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz. The latest example of this comes from Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz in an op-ed arguing for changes to the law in the wake of Rittenhouse’s acquittal.

And what of Gaige Grosskreutz, who saw Rittenhouse shoot Huber? Grosskreutz testified he thought Rittenhouse was an “active shooter.” He was shot when he confronted Rittenhouse while brandishing his own gun. It is clear from the fact that he did not shoot Rittenhouse when he had the chance, that he was only trying to stop him.

At trial, doubts were raised about Grosskreutz’s veracity, but the facts show he was truthful about this.

As a colleague of mine asked, how is Grosskreutz any different from Tate Myre, who was shot and killed trying to disarm the gunman at a shooting incident at Oxford High School in Michigan in November? Myre reacted exactly as he should have. He was a hero. It would be absurd to imagine that the gunman in the school shooting will be permitted to raise self-defense when charged with Myre’s death.

What an appalling comparison. Apparently neither Ledewitz or his colleague actually watched Grosskreutz’s testimony, because if they did they would have realized that Grosskreutz was never 100% sure that Rittenhouse had shot Rosenbaum when he began following him. Grosskreutz drew his gun and pointed it at Rittenhouse after Rittenhouse had been attacked by Huber and “Jumpkick Man”, which led to Rittenhouse shooting Grosskreutz in the arm.

Despite the prosecution referring to Rittenhouse as an “active shooter,” it was clear from the outset that the teen wasn’t trying to kill as many innocent people as possible. He fired a total of eight shots, each one directed at someone who posed an immediate threat to his life. To compare those actions to those of the suspect in the Oxford shooting is reprehensible, but Ledewitz needs to make that comparison not only to portray Grosskreutz as a hero, but to portray Rittenhouse as a mass murderer.

Ledewitz is correct that it would be absurd for the suspect in the the Oxford shooting to claim self-defense, because he wasn’t acting in self-defense. He allegedly walked out of a school bathroom and began shooting. That’s a far different scenario than what unfolded on that August night in Kenosha, and it’s reprehensible and reckless for Ledewitz to try to compare the two.

People who emphasize, as the defense did at the trial, that Rittenhouse was chased and attacked after he killed Rosenbaum, that he feared for his life and that he did not threaten or provoke his attackers are asking the wrong questions. The only relevant question should be whether Rittenhouse reasonably believed he could not have safely surrendered. If that isn’t the law, it should be.

Maybe under this standard Rittenhouse would have been acquitted anyway. But maybe not. A jury might have found that Rittenhouse could have surrendered right after shooting Rosenbaum, when he phoned a friend instead of the police.

If Rittenhouse had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm from those attacking him, then not only did he have the right to act in self-defense, but he could not have reasonably believed that he could have safely surrendered to police in that moment. In fact, he was trying to do just that when he was attacked and fired the shots that killed Huber and wounded Grosskreutz.

Ledewitz clearly has a problem with Rittenhouse’s acquittal, but I’d suggest that the problem lies within himself, and not within the law. What happened that night was confusing, chaotic, and even regrettable (as Kyle Rittenhouse himself has said), but it wasn’t murder, and rewriting the facts after the jury returned a verdict Ledewitz doesn’t agree with isn’t grounds for making it nearly impossible for others to lawfully act to defend their lives when attacked.