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Rittenhouse prosecutor says ‘right to self-defense ends when you bring a gun’

Kyle Rittenhouse. (Antioch Police Department/TNS)
November 15, 2021

During closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial on Monday, Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said Rittenhouse bringing a gun to Kenosha ends his right to self-defense.

“You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create. That’s critical right here. If you’re the one who’s threatening others, you lose the right to claim self-defense,” Binger said.

Binger alleged that Rittenhouse ran around pointing his AR-15 rifle at people, which provoked them to attack him during the Aug. 25, 2020 riots in Kenosha, Wis., despite video footage showing the rifle pointed downwards.

“Under Wisconsin law, you’re not allowed to run around and point your gun at people. This is the provocation. This is what starts this incident,” Binger said. “You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you’re the one creating the danger, when you’re the one provoking other people.”

Rittenhouse was charged with one misdemeanor and five felonies: first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. The latter charge, however, was dismissed by Judge Bruce Schroeder on Monday.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty, and he and his legal team have maintained that his shooting was in self-defense.

“Kyle was a 17-year-old kid out there trying to help this community,” Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards said. “Kyle was not an active shooter. That is a buzzword the state wants to latch onto.”

Then-17-year-old Rittenhouse was part of a group of volunteers who protected Kenosha businesses during protests that escalated into looting and rioting that erupted in reaction to the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse was among several individuals asked to help put out fires at car lots in the city. He also offered medical aid to injured protesters and helped clean graffiti from buildings, video showed.

Rittenhouse was attacked during the riots, and video footage has shown him firing his AR-15 rifle at his attackers, resulting in the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. Rosenbaum was characterized as having “erratic behavior” on the night of the shooting. Video showed Rosenbaum throwing a bag at Rittenhouse, threatening to kill Rittenhouse and chasing him before the shooting. Huber had struck Rittenhouse with a skateboard before he was shot.

A surviving person Rittenhouse shot, Gaige Grosskreutz, had testified last Monday that Rittenhouse only fired at him when Grosskreutz aimed his handgun at Rittenhouse.