The three men shot dead by Kyle Rittenhouse during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin can be characterized as rioters, looters or arsonists if the teenager’s defense team has evidence to support the characterizations – but they shouldn’t be called victims, the judge said in his murder trial. this week.
The ruling was part of the ground rules Kenosha County Judge Bruce E. Schroeder laid down for the trial on Monday, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.
Rittenhouse, 18, was charged with manslaughter and attempted homicide after he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz in Kenosha during protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake , a black man, by a white policeman. officer.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is free on bail.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, used a semi-automatic rifle that looks like the AR-15 designed for the military. He said he went to the August 25, 2020 protests to help protect companies from looters when he was attacked and acted in self-defense.
Deputy prosecutor Thomas Binger had asked the judge to ban the defense from describing the men who were shot in derogatory language.
On Monday, Schroeder reiterated his long-standing policy against using the word “victim” in his criminal trials until there is a conviction. He said the word is “loaded” with prejudice.
Binger, the prosecutor, argued that the words “rioters”, “looters” and “arsonists” are “charged, if not more”, than “victim”.
“You didn’t let me call someone a victim when it was proven,” he told Schroeder.
Binger said what the three men were doing before they were shot had nothing to do with their confrontations with Rittenhouse and his decision to open fire. He argued that Rittenhouse did not see the three doing anything criminal when he shot them.
Binger did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for the families of the three slain men also did not respond.
Grosskreutz, who has not been charged with a felony, sued the city, county and law enforcement authorities this month, alleging that Kenosha officials allowed a “group of white nationalist vigilantes” during the demonstration.
A spokesperson representing the city and the police department declined to comment. A lawyer representing Kenosha County and the sheriff called the allegations false.
“The trial also does not recognize that Mr. Grosskreutz himself was armed with a firearm when he was shot, and that Mr. Grosskreutz did not prosecute the person who shot him.” said attorney Sam Hall.