KENOSHA, Wis.—The jury at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial over a string of shootings on the streets of Kenosha watched one of the central pieces of video evidence Wednesday—footage of a man chasing Rittenhouse and throwing a plastic bag at him just before the man was gunned down.
Someone is heard yelling “F— you!,” followed by the sounds of the four shots Rittenhouse fired, killing Joseph Rosenbaum, though the shooting itself is not clearly seen on camera. Rosenbaum was the first of three men Rittenhouse shot that night, two of them fatally.
“Oh, he shot him! He shot him, man. He shot him. He shot him, man. He laid him out,” the person making the video can be heard saying.
Footage shown to the jury also showed Rosenbaum lying on the ground as frantic bystanders surrounded him to help. He had a wound to his head, and a bystander placed a shirt on it to apply pressure.
The scenes were part of wealth of video played for the jury that captured the chaos and repeated sound of gunfire on the night the 17-year-old aspiring police officer fired an assault-style rifle during a tumultuous demonstration against police brutality in the summer of 2020.
In the courtroom, Rittenhouse glanced downward at times, at one point just staring at the desk in front of him, as the videos were played. He appeared to take deep breaths.
Footage of Rittenhouse being chased and other stages of the conflict were available on social media right after the bloodshed. Many of the videos played at the trial were found by police on various social media sites.
Rittenhouse, now 18, could get life in prison if convicted in the politically polarizing case that has stirred furious debate over self-defense, vigilantism, the right to bear arms, and the racial unrest that erupted around the U.S. after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other cases like it.
The young man traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois after violent protests broke out over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer. Rittenhouse said he went there to protect property after two nights in which rioters set fires and ransacked businesses.
Prosecutors have portrayed him as the instigator of the bloodshed, while his lawyer argued that he acted in self-defense after Rosenbaum tried to grab his gun and others in the crowd kicked him in the face and hit him in the head with a skateboard.
A Kenosha detective who took the stand detailed injuries Rittenhouse suffered that night, all seemingly minor: a half-inch scratch above his eyebrow, a small cut inside his lower lip, a 2-inch scratch below his collarbone, a 2-inch scratch on his forearm, a scratch on his back and two bumps the size of pennies on his head.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger drove home the point that Rosenbaum was apparently unarmed, asking Kenosha Detective Martin Howard if any of the videos shown in court indicated Rosenbaum had a weapon of any kind. Howard replied no.
“No gun?” Binger asked.
“I can only see a plastic bag he’s carrying,” Howard said.
“So no gun? Binger asked.
“No,” replied Howard, who repeated the answer when Binger also asked him whether Rosenbaum carried a knife, bat or club.
Other video played for the jury showed Rittenhouse saying before the shootings that he was there to protect property and provide medical care to anyone who was hurt.
An interviewer mentioned non-lethal weapons and Rittenhouse responded: “We don’t have non-lethal.” The man filming the video then asked if Rittenhouse was “full-on” ready to defend the property and he replied, “Yes, we are.”
In another video, Rittenhouse can be seen running through the frame, carrying a fire extinguisher. Shortly afterward, the video captures the sound of one gunshot, which was fired into the air by someone in the crowd other than Rittenhouse, according to authorities. The defense has said that that shot made Rittenhouse think he was under attack.
Many jurors seemed to jot down extensive notes when testimony turned to the level of violence at the Kenosha protests, which included protesters throwing firebombs and rocks on the night of the shooting.
Moments after shooting the 36-year-old Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, who was seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard.
Rittenhouse then wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, a protester from West Allis, Wisconsin, who had a gun in his hand as he stepped toward Rittenhouse.
By Tammy Webber, Michael Tarm and Amy Forliti