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The story of Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year old, is still being told, and the definitive version will almost certainly be told at trial—if there is a trial.  As we begin let us understand, with all of my years of police and tactical experience, I likely would not have involved myself in the riots in Kenosha, WI, as Rittenhouse did that night, if for no reason other than knowing no matter how reasonable defending a business against destruction, and no matter how obviously valid any self-defense claim, the leftist nature of the state would put me at a severe legal disadvantage regardless of the law.

Putting oneself, obviously armed with a rifle, in close proximity with violent anarchists intent on provoking deadly violence is not a wise thing to do.  Absent a complete abdication of police protection and authority—we’re not quite there yet—it’s not a smart thing to do.  That kind of Democrat/Socialist/Communist ordered, aided and abetted negligence establishes a state of anarchy where criminals and seditionists may break the law at will, secure in the knowledge having to pay for their crimes is unlikely, but honest citizens, particularly those defending property and life, will likely find themselves fighting for their liberty and lives in the criminal justice system.  That said, from everything I’ve been able to discover, Rittenhouse did nothing illegal, yet is facing murder—and other stacked–charges.

Kyle Rittenhouse

Was Rittenhouse a vigilante?  Only if one considers trying to protect property, rather than actively enforcing one’s own code of law and behavior, no matter how closely it reflects actual law and order, vigilantism.  All available evidence, including multiple videos, reveals rather than looking for trouble, Rittenhouse did his best to help people that might have been injured.  He fled from an angry mob that was actively pursuing him, attacking him, and trying to take his rifle.  He fired only at those that were actively trying to injure, even kill, him, all of whom had serious criminal records, and one of whom—who survived–pointed a handgun at him at close range.  He was literally running for his life, trying to reach a police line several blocks distant, a line of police apparently unaware of what was happening—or uninteresting in it—despite multiple gunshots over several minutes—not fired by Rittenhouse.

Let us then examine those involved and what they provoked.  As we do, keep in mind even normally non-aggressive people with no criminal record or intent will do aggressive and criminal things when caught up in the bloodlust of a mob, shielded by the anonymity—isn’t it convenient masks are now all but required and legal?–it provides.  Mob psychology is taught in every competent police academy and studied by officers thereafter.

The Attackers (courtesy of Robert Stacey McCain at The Spectator.org)

 Attack #1: One might consider events to begin with a confrontation between those in Rittenhouse’s group and an angry mob:

…including a man with a shaven head wearing a burgundy T-shirt, who repeatedly uses a racial epithet as he shouts at the armed civilians, “Shoot me, n***a!”

The shouting man was Joseph ‘JoJo’ Rosenbaum, [emphasis mine] a 36-year-old registered sex offender who served more than a decade in Arizona prisons after being convicted in 2002 on a charge of ‘sexual conduct with a minor.’ For more than a week, the exact nature of Rosenbaum’s crime was unknown, although obviously it must have been quite egregious for a judge in Tucson to have sentenced him to 10 years in prison and lifetime registry as a sex offender. This week, however, bloggers discovered that Rosenbaum had molested five boys ages 9 to 11.

This is indeed an unusually substantial sentence and mandate.  This information was dug up by a blogger via a FOIA request.  Reporters would not touch it; it would tend to harsh the narrative of innocent, mostly peaceful, non-intensifying protestors.

Online records show that Rosenbaum was twice returned to prison after his initial release, due to parole violations, and it was not until 2017 that he was finally set free. After leaving prison in Arizona, Rosenbaum lived briefly in Texas before relocating to Kenosha where he soon faced new legal trouble, being charged in July with battery, domestic abuse, and disorderly conduct. It was Rosenbaum who instigated the deadly violence that erupted Aug. 25 shortly before midnight. He is seen on video chasing Rittenhouse down a street and across a parking lot. According to a police affidavit, witnesses saw Rosenbaum assault Rittenhouse, attempting to grab the teenager’s rifle before Rittenhouse fired multiple shots, five of which hit Rosenbaum, who died on the scene.

At this point, gentle readers, I recommend you visit Mostly Peaceful Protesters And Deadly Force, where I explain the criteria for the lawful use of deadly force in detail. Briefly, they are innocence, avoidance, imminence, proportionality and reasonableness.  In this case, I would add the factor of disparity of force.  Even though Rittenhouse was armed with a semiautomatic rifle, an AR-15 variant, he was on the weak end of the disparity of force.  Any rifle is a distance weapon.  At grappling distance, when one is attacked by an angry mob out for their blood, any advantage conferred by a rifle is easily reversed, particularly when the mob actively and repeatedly tries to seize that rifle. This is in part why military and police units tend not to use rifles for close quarters battle.

In this, the first encounter in a running attack, Rosenbaum was not a peaceful protestor, but a violent felon who instigated the beginning of the continuing attack on Rittenhouse.  Keep in mind he was not alone.  Others were also chasing Rittenhouse, surrounding him, and urging violence against him—disparity of force.  Rittenhouse had every reason to believe if Rosenbaum—or any of those attacking him—got his rifle, they’d use it to kill him.

Attack #2:

According to witnesses, corroborated by video, Rittenhouse was apparently ready to remain on the scene of that shooting until people in the mob began shouting threats. Clearly fearing mob violence, Rittenhouse fled north on Sheridan Road.

Why would he remain on the scene?  I’m sure the defense will say Rittenhouse was waiting for the Police, certain he had done nothing wrong and acted in self-defense.  Anyone who leaves the scene of a shooting is virtually always considered to be demonstrating evidence of a guilty conscience.  Also, he was carrying a medical kit, and was hoping to help the unknown attacker he’d been forced to shoot, but the mob wouldn’t allow that.

He ran less than two blocks before he was attacked again. First an unidentified man knocked his hat off, then Rittenhouse stumbled and fell, when he was attacked by a second unidentified man who fled after Rittenhouse apparently fired two shots. That’s when Rittenhouse was attacked by 26-year-old Anthony Huber, [emphasis mine] who hit him with a skateboard while attempting to grab Rittenhouse’s rifle. In this brief struggle, Rittenhouse fired once, a fatal shot that the medical examiner said pierced Huber’s heart and aorta.

Huber tried to hit Rittenhouse in the head.  Could a blow to the head with a skateboard be fatal?  Indeed it could.  Even a single blow to the head with hand or foot may be fatal.  Combine this with a nearly simultaneous attempt to take Rittenhouse’s rifle, foiled primarily by his single point sling, the surrounding angry and violent mob, the fact Rittenhouse was on the ground, even more vulnerable than before, and again all of the elements necessary for the lawful use of deadly force are present, including disparity of force.  Was Huber an innocent, mostly peaceful protestor, caught up in the emotions of the mob?  Hardly:

Some in the media have tried to portray Huber as a heroic figure. In fact, he was a convicted felon who in 2012 pleaded guilty to serious domestic violence charges of strangulation and false imprisonment; more recently, in 2018, Huber pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in a domestic abuse case.

Like Rosenbaum, Huber was a violent felon, a man prone to violence using the mob as a means to be violent.  It is no coincidence every attacker shot in this incident had a substantial, violent, criminal record.  Such people are attracted to angry, violent mobs for the opportunities they present.

Attack #3:

Almost instantly after shooting Huber, Rittenhouse was confronted by 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz, who is seen on video with a pistol in his right hand. Rittenhouse fired his rifle again, inflicting a ghastly wound on Grosskreutz’s right bicep.

Imagine you’re Rittenhouse.  You’re under constant attack by people trying to disarm you.  You’ve just shot one, you’re still on the ground and suddenly, there’s Grosskreutz, pointing a handgun at you.  Why was he shot in the bicep?  It’s common, when facing the muzzle of a gun, for people to unconsciously try to shoot the gun—the immediate deadly threat—and instead hit attackers in the hand or arm.  How about Grosskreutz?  Was he a mostly peaceful protestor?

… online records indicate that he was arrested on burglary charges in 2013. The disposition of that case is unknown, but in 2016, Grosskreutz was found guilty of carrying a firearm while intoxicated, a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin. Grosskreutz is also reportedly associated with a radical group in Milwaukee called the People’s Revolution Movement.

His regret will tend to harsh the narrative…

Like Rosenbaum and Huber, Grosskreutz, who survived, is a criminal, and associated with a violent, seditious gang.  As soon as he was clear, Rittenhouse fired several shots in to the air, probably trying to discourage others.  In this he was successful, and began running, and eventually walking, toward the police about a block away.  He put both hands up as he approached them, but they simply drove past him, and he turned himself in the next day.  Grosskreutz, the only surviving attacker, has not been charged with a crime, obviously because that would damage the narrative and harm the prosecution.  Expect him to claim he was making a citizen’s arrest.  Expect the defense to establish there was no possible way for Rittenhouse to know that, and to get Grosskreutz to admit he said no such thing.

Note: even if that was Grosskreutz’s intention, it must have no effect on Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim.  How could any reasonable person in similar circumstances know that, and believe Grosskreutz wasn’t merely trying to get them to drop their guard so he could shoot them?

Video of the incident is available here (note: in this video the first shooting is not visible).  Before we review the incident in terms of self-defense, consider these excerpts from this report by Grant Baker at The American Thinker:

The crowds swelled as the night went on, becoming more confident and aggressive.  A band of rioters went into the gas station parking lot to harass the armed libertarians, enraged that they would not be able to loot and vandalize as they pleased.  One white rioter walked right up to the armed men and proceeded to taunt them, calling them the n-word.  “Shoot me n—-!  Shoot me n—-!  Bust on me n—- fo’ real!”[skip]

The increasingly aggravated crowd advanced on the libertarians as they ceded ground to appease the crowd.  The libertarians eventually fled the location and became separated as the rioters ran after them.  Footage during this time frame is scarce, but one recording shows the fate of the man who had taunted the armed group earlier.  He is seen with his shirt tied around his face while sprinting across a different parking lot in pursuit of one of the armed men later identified as 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. A gunshot is heard as Rittenhouse is chased through the lot, his arms down at his sides, gun pointing at the ground.  The 17-year-old then slows to a stop, possibly alarmed by the gunfire.  He turns around just in time to see his assailant whose arms are raised mid-tackle.  The 17-year-old raises his gun and fires four shots, dropping his assailant with a shot to the head.  Rittenhouse circles a car before coming back to the downed assailant while three additional shots are heard (unconfirmed origin, possibly warning shots from Rittenhouse).  Rittenhouse checks on his assailant’s condition and pulls out his phone, calling the authorities.  A small crowd begins to converge on his location, prompting the 17-year-old to flee again in fear.  Members of the crowd attempt to give medical treatment to the still conscious assailant, accusing each other of the shooting.

Additional footage shows Rittenhouse being chased down the street toward the police blockade, clutching his rifle as dozens of rioters run after him in hot pursuit.  The 17-year-old receives various blows to the head from rioters before being knocked to the ground.  Rioters immediately swarm, shouting ‘Get his ass!’  Rittenhouse, sprawled on the ground, manages to seize his rifle, and sit up just in time to fire twice at a man in a mid-air attempt to kick his head, missing both shots.  The assailant runs off uninjured as a second assailant slams a skateboard into Rittenhouse’s head and attempts to steal the rifle.  A single shot is fired into the second assailant’s midsection as he raises the skateboard a second time, forcing the assailant to release the rifle and drop the skateboard before taking a few steps and collapsing to the ground.  A third assailant, armed with a handgun, feigns surrender by throwing his hands up.  Upon seeing his opportunity to steal the rifle, the third assailant lunges forward only to be shot in the arm, subsequently running to the side of the street and demanding medical attention (it was probably quite the wait, given his fellow rioters’ insistence on blocking roads with dumpsters earlier that night).  The mob scatters during the third assailant’s failure, and distant shots are heard, presumably off camera.  Rittenhouse stands up clutching his rifle and slowly begins walking down the street toward a blockade of emergency vehicles several blocks away.  Nine close shots are heard in bursts of three (possibly warning shots or pepper balls fired off camera), prompting Rittenhouse to briefly turn around before resuming his march.  He picks up the pace as police vehicles arrive ahead of him and members of the scattered mob cry for someone to “Shoot him!”  The 17-year-old raises his arms, surrendering to the police vehicles as the anti-police BLM rioters yell at the police to arrest him.

Pay particular attention to all the gunfire, much of which does not seem to have been Rittenhouse’s.

Rittenhouse trying to surrender to police

There seems to have been miscommunication among law enforcement officials, as the Kenosha County sheriff, David Beth, told local media that no one had been apprehended and that the search was ongoing, despite video clearly showing Rittenhouse surrendering himself to police.  He must have been released without charges initially, as Rittenhouse was later arrested at his home nearby in Illinois, a criminal complaint falsely claiming that he had attempted to flee to escape charges.

ANALYSIS:  Some have suggested Rittenhouse was illegally in possession of the rifle, which renders everything that happened thereafter criminal on his part.  Even were that true—I doubt the prosecutor will keep that charge—it is entirely irrelevant to self-defense. 

Innocence: Rittenhouse was never the instigator or attacker.  He consistently did his best to run away throughout the incident, firing only when he was about to be overwhelmed or was under direct attack, and even then demonstrated remarkable restraint, firing only at those imminently dangerous to him.  He tried to remain at the scene of the first shooting, even tried to summon and provide aide, but was continuously pursued by a ravening mob out for his blood, and demonstrating that by word, gunfire, and deeds.

Avoidence:  Rittenhouse, as previously mentioned, consistently tried to avoid trouble, and did nothing but run away.  If allowed to leave, no one would have been hurt.  He was never aggressive in word or deed.  Even The New York Time’s account(?!)   demonstrates self-defense.

Imminence:  Again, in each attack, Rittenhouse did not have to imagine an attack was imminent—they were happening when he was forced to defend himself.  He did not have to imagine he might be in danger of serious bodily injury or death at some time in the near future—the mob was continually screaming for his blood while ruthlessly chasing him.  He was being repeatedly struck, knocked to the ground, and attacked on the ground with a potentially deadly weapon—the skateboard, while attackers tried to seize his rifle.  He was also hearing repeated gunshots, and had every reason to believe those were aimed at him, particularly when Grosskreutz accosted him with a handgun instantly after he shot Huber who immediately staggered a few feet and collapsed.  Rittenhouse did not know any of these men, and they did not know him.

Proportionality:  No reasonable person would have believed, given the circumstances, reasoned debate would have saved them.  In this case, in part due to the disparity of force—the large, vicious mob of adult men constantly pursuing and attacking him.  He demonstrated fidelity to this criteria by shooting only those directly attacking him, and only enough to stop them.  He did not shoot, or even directly threaten, anyone else.  The defense will argue if Rittenhouse did not shoot when he did, he would have been killed.  They will be right.

Reasonableness:  Any reasonable person in Rittenhouse’s place would have been justified in doing as he did.  He had no choice.  The necessity of shooting was forced—repeatedly and violently—on him.  Again, he demonstrated his reasonableness by going to the police line as soon as he was able.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is yet another politicized prosecution, different from most primarily by the fact none of those shot were black.  Yet remember many Wisconsin politicians, including the Governor, are very much on the side of the “mostly peaceful protestors.”  Wisconsin politics are very much leftist. 

The criteria I’ve provided here are not secret, unknown to prosecutors.  They’re the unchanging law.  Even The New York Times’ account screams self-defense.  Rittenhouse should never have been charged, and almost certainly was in at attempt to suppress further rioting, looting and arson.  Appeasement of anarchic mobs never works.  Those employing it hoping the mob will kill them last are virtually always killed, and virtually never last.

Fortunately, a number of excellent attorneys are providing a defense for Rittenhouse.

It is, of course, among the media, a matter of faith that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist murderer, but there is no evidence whatever of either contention, and race was not at all a factor in this case.  Even if we believe Rittenhouse had no business there, and particularly not armed, that in no ways diminishes hit unassailable right to self-defense under the circumstances.  It is not the responsibility of law-abiding citizens to avoid being where they are lawfully allowed to be while carrying lawful weapons for their protection, rather it is the responsibility of others not to try to kill them.  Not doing the wisest possible thing does not deprive one of the right to self-defense.

We can hope reason will prevail, and the charges will be dropped.  Any reasonable prosecutor must know charges are an abuse of justice, but where leftism and prosecution mix, the law usually is a distant second consideration when it is considered at all.

Take the many links I’ve provided for additional information—this twitter thread may also be helpful–and I’ll continue to report as necessary.