In a word… “What?”
The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse is one of the most contentious continuations of the 2020 riots. The Illinois teenager who shot 3 and killed 2 people in Kenosha Wisconsin during the riots, and then made the legal claim of self defense, is having his defense shored up strongly… by the prosecution who brought the charges.
The prosecution in instance after instance seems to be affirming the “Rittenhouse” version of events and not the narrative that they need for a conviction, which would be a finding that any action Rittenhouse took was unlawfully made, out of control, or otherwise completely unreasonable. They certainly aren’t drawing those lines through their narrative and the evidence.
The title image says it all, a shot of the two ADA’s prosecuting Rittenhouse listening to their witness, Gaige Grosskreutz, admit to omitting information to police (the fact he had a gun) and to only being shot by Rittenhouse after he pointed the gun at Rittenhouse.
The fact Grosskreutz had the gun, a glock pistol, was also the only missing critical detail in his otherwise detailed statement to police, which included accurate descriptions like Rittenhouse’s physical appearance, from his hospital interview. This was dragged out and mercilessly shredded by the defense. How did Grosskreutz deliver an otherwise detailed and very accurate statement to police, that omitted the fact he was armed because, in Grosskreutz’s words, he was on pain meds and very traumatized, but that pain, medication, and trauma did not affect any other detail omissions… just the one that drastically changes how Grosskreutz himself would be perceived.
Trials are, ultimately, narratives for the jury to judge. The narrative is shaped by the evidence and the legal representatives of the sides in the case. There are rules surrounding the admission of evidence and good lawyers will use those rules in order to exploit every narrative advantage that they are able to in order to push the story they want the jury to believe in. The jury then compares the story they believe against the relevant charges and renders the verdict(s).
The prosecution in this instance has done an admirable job portraying the pre-trial narrative of a ‘White Supremacist’ looking to shoot some people and get away with it at a riot as… well… inaccurate is the polite term.
They have additionally done an excellent job in stating that in each of the three shootings, Rittenhouse was under threat. If any charge sticks, it may be in relation to Rittenhouse’s possession of the AR in the first place and will certainly avoid his legal and justified (as it appears) use of force in defense of his life.
Rosenbaum’s “victimhood” was shredded into a polite title that amounts to ‘he got shot first’. Provocation and justification were demonstrated to an exemplary level by the defense and the prosecution gave up that Rosenbaum was medicated for mental issues, had a violent history (to put it mildly), and would be a credible threat. Rosenbaum had spent a decade in prison for raping children.
Huber’s portrayal by the prosecution as a ‘hero’ running to stop an active shooter threat was torn apart by the defense as video shows Rittenhouse not shooting at anyone until Huber hits him with the skateboard. Huber’s domestic abuser criminal past is largely irrelevant, but I’ll add it as ‘character context’ since an childhood incident was added for character context by the prosecution to imply Huber would run toward danger for a ‘good cause’ or to save others.
Finally we get to the “survivor” Grosskreutz. The photo shows, quite accurately, what the prosecution thinks of their own witness’ (their key witness’) testimony of the events.
Make no mistake, the whole of the trial hinges on making Grosskreutz look like the victim of the shooting. Grosskreutz made himself look like a fool, a liar, and an ultimately unreliable character. Not the ‘medic’ he alleged himself to be who was going to aid and secure Rittenhouse in some way shape or form. His social media commentary, his omission to police that he was armed (which may have been illegal due to his misdemeanor conviction for drunk while in possession of a firearm in 2016), and his inconsistent narrative on the stand compared to previous statements all did him no favors.
Use of Force experts supported the position that Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz would be a threat to Rittenhouse on his own an surrounded as he was.
I’ve found, in my perusal, that several attorney friends of mind are following the case and their comments upon it are… enlightening. Moreover I’m following a few non-attorney types who are just legal nerd enough to want to follow the events too.
From every person following the trial, by actually watching the trial, there is a loose consensus of thought… the prosecution never had a case. It makes the fact a case was brought at all reek of political activism and grandstanding.
Now if people are following the case only through headlines (which most do) you may be understandably confused.
The New York Times: Man Shot by Kyle Rittenhouse Describes the Encounter on a Kenosha Street.
Fox News: Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Shooting victim Gaige Grosskreutz says he was pointing his gun at young man.
Insider: Gaige Grosskreutz says he was ‘never trying to kill’ Kyle Rittenhouse.
NPR: The only person who survived being shot by Kyle Rittenhouse takes the stand.
CNN: Armed paramedic who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse testifies he thought teen was an active shooter.
Politico: Shooting victim says he was pointing his gun at Rittenhouse.
USA Today: Gaige Grosskreutz, shot by Kyle Rittenhouse, testifies at trial: ‘(I) thought I was going to die’.
The Washington Post: Gaige Grosskreutz says he feared for his life, pointed gun at Kyle Rittenhouse before getting shot.
It’s hard to tell what is going on above taken together.
It is easy to tell who the news agency believes is in the right… and that is disappointing.
I shouldn’t be able to pick out your alignment before the accurate information in a headline. But that is how headlines are used now. The headline is weaponized to the message, even if the narrative inside is objectively fairly accurate. The pacing and selection of when certain information is included in the narrative (and how) is also telling of alignment.
In certain segments of the media Rosenbaum is portrayed rather sympathetically, as a homeless man or as a man with mental health issues (bipolar) and those are individually accurate statements… they casually throw in the decade he spent in prison for criminal sexual conduct with a minor, but even then seem to try to pass that one off like it might have been one of those less serious statutory things maybe between a 16 y/o and an 18 y/o… Other sources called him what he was, a child rapist. He plead to 10 years on two counts on charges that included anal rape of 5 boys age 9 to 11.
Rosenbaum was a piece of shit. Just my opinion. Rosenbaum getting ventilated by trying to assault a teenager and take a rifle from said teenager is no great loss to the world, arguably a gain. Again, just my opinion. They’ll save on not having to prosecute those outstanding domestic abuse charges.
Witness Richie McGinnis described on the stand how Rosenbaum tried to get Rittenhouse’s gun and attempted to provoke Rittenhouse. He describe how Rittenhouse ‘juked’ to disengage and flee, how Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and was eventually shot.
The headlines though, the headlines drive you to a narrative assumption that can be completely at odds with how the whole of the trial is proceeding.
The best of the bunch is arguably… the New York Times. It does not project the opinion of the author to the reader base, it does not paint the defense or the prosecution in the light of being the sympathetic character or ‘good guy’ designate.
The prosecution has tried miserably and failed miserably to make Rosenbaum, Huber, or Grosskreutz ‘good guy’ designates. They ended Monday’s trial with a video of the riot chanting they should burn down the city.
So, again, “What?”