The prosecution and defense gave opening statements Tuesday in Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial.
The prosecution argued that Rittenhouse’s shooting of three men during unrest last year was unreasonable.
Rittenhouse’s defense said the teen wasn’t looking for trouble and was just defending himself.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense attorney repeated the N-word twice in court on Tuesday, during opening statements in a trial that will focus on whether the teen was justified in shooting three men during racial unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.
Rittenhouse shot and killed two men and injured a third after coming into Kenosha the night of August 25, 2020, in order to help protect a local business amid the unrest in response to the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake.
While Assistant Kenosha County District Attorney Thomas Binger argued in his opening statements that Rittenhouse’s use of force was unnecessary, Mark Richards, a member of Rittenhouse’s defense team, argued that the teen had been forced to defend himself from one of the men he killed, Joseph Rosenbaum.
To drive home his point, Richards showed the jury a clip which depicts Rosenbaum taunting others the night of his death.
“Shoot me n—a, shoot me n—a. Bust on me for real,” Rosenbaum says in the video.
A little more than a minute later, while referring back to the clip, Richards repeated what Rosenbaum said in the video: “Shoot me n—-r. Shoot me n—-r.”
Richards spent most of his opening statement to the jury painting Rittenhouse as someone who had close ties to Kenosha, and wanted to lend a hand to the community. He said multiple times that Rittenhouse went to Kenosha armed to help defend a local business, and that his client didn’t “want confrontation” or “trouble.”
Richards said Rittenhouse was forced to defend himself when Rosenbaum started chasing after him, diving for his gun. The two other shootings happened as Rittenhouse tried to defend himself against a mob after shooting Rosenbaum, the lawyer said.
The prosecution framed Rittenhouse’s actions as extreme, even amidst the backdrop of violence and chaos that night.
Binger told the jury in his opening statement it was “important to keep the context of that night in mind” when determining whether Rittenhouse acted “reasonably.”
“We will show you video of hostile confrontations, people getting up in each other’s faces, and yet the only person who killed anyone is the defendant,” Binger said.
Binger also called into question the idea that Rittenhouse was just in Kenosha to protect businesses, pointing out that the police had pushed demonstrators past the business Rittenhouse was ostensibly guarding.
“Does the defendant stay there, does he decide that he’s done what he set out to do and it’s time to go home? No,” Binger said. “The evidence will show that the defendant and another individual in the group … decide to venture out into the crowd … and walk amongst this group of hostile protesters.”
The trial, which began Monday with jury selection, is expected to last two weeks.
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