The Charges Against Kyle Rittenhouse

On August 27th, prosecutors in Kenosha County filed six charges against Kyle Rittenhouse which read as follows:

  1. First degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  2. First degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon
  3. First degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  4. Attempt first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  5. First degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon
  6. Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.

A detailed breakdown of the facts of the case can be found here. What follows is a breakdown of the law applicable to the case.

Counts 1, 3, and 4 relate to shots fired at Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz respectively, all of whom are on film attacking Kyle Rittenhouse as he attempts to flee. Count 2 is ancillary to Count 1, relating to Daily Caller reporter Richard McGinnis, who was following Rosenbaum at the time of the incident and was therefore in Kyle’s line of fire. Count 5 refers to the two shots fired at the unknown male who attempted a jumping stomp on Kyle’s head after he tripped and fell while fleeing a violent mob. Both shots missed and the man fled the scene. Count 6 is an attempt to punish Kyle for merely having the gun.

The defense against Counts 1 to 5 will be Wisconsin’s broad self-defense laws. Citizens have no duty to flee when endangered (although Kyle did) and maintain self-defense privileges even if attacked by those one provokes (so long as the provocation did not include criminal entrapment). There is no duty to use the least possible force when threatened, only reasonable force, a standard judged by the person in question.  In other words, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kyle Rittenhouse did not believe he had risk of great bodily harm and that the force he used was unreasonable according to Kyle’s own standards. Unlikely, given the facts of the case.

Additionally, both men killed by Rittenhouse had their hands on Kyle’s gun at the time of being shot, a detail confirmed by eyewitness Richard McGinnis and videos of the incident, making the men in possession of a gun. Both Rosenbaum and Huber were convicted felons and therefore may not possess firearms in Wisconsin. Bizarrely, even the charges mention that the men had grabbed Rittenhouse’s gun, undermining the prosecutors’ allegations. Worse yet, Gaige Grosskreutz, the third felon shot by Rittenhouse, had an illegal handgun drawn and pointed at Rittenhouse just before being shot. Grosskreutz later admitted through a third party that “his only regret was not killing the kid and hesitating to pull the gun before emptying the entire mag into him.” Grosskreutz has not been charged with a crime.

We are left with Count 6, illegal possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Kyle Rittenhouse is only 17, an open and shut case, right? Not quite. There is an exception for minors under 18 years of age armed with a rifle, which Kyle was indeed armed with. There are exceptions to this exception dealing with persons under 16 and hunting approvals, but neither are applicable in this case. Kyle Rittenhouse escapes this charge as well.

Considering the facts of the case and the state laws governing Wisconsin, it becomes clear that Kyle’s actions were not reckless -- the prosecutor’s decisions were.

The story of Kyle Rittenhouse is more than a gripping piece of news, it is a telling philosophical Rorschach test. A lone individual stood up to a mob of violent felons, abusers, and pedophiles, asserting his right to live over their lust for his blood, and won. While the American public, generous in their deference for human life, and may have paused in horror at the shootings, the tide of public opinion is turning for Kyle as the deluge of exculpatory facts break through the dam of misinformation. Americans should take note at which institutions were quick to back Kyle, which condemned him, and the cowards in between.

America’s Founders foresaw the need for armed young men to rise to the defense of their communities against rioters, looters, and foreign invaders. Men younger than Kyle fought in the American Revolution, put down insurrections under George Washington, and trained in militia groups in anticipation of threats. It was for these men that the 2nd Amendment was written, and it is men like Kyle whom the amendment must continue to protect.

The frailty of the charges brought against Kyle Rittenhouse show the well from which the insurrectionist mobs draw their power: the political class, the prosecutor’s office, and the media. Rittenhouse is charged with allegations refuted by the prosecutor’s own complaint, but the Portland murderer can gun down Trump supporters in the street because prosecutors declined to press charges for his gun crimes. The privilege of immunity for city leaders and prosecutors who abdicate their duties must end. It is time for President Trump to order his Justice Department to lock up corrupt prosecutors and city leaders who knowingly put people in danger.

Until then, we depend on citizens like Kyle Rittenhouse.

Image: Pixabay

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