Kyle Rittenhouse Has 'Strong Self-Defense Claim,' Legal Experts Reveal
Teen arrested for shooting two armed BLM rioters during attack
Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who was arrested for shooting two armed Black Lives Matter rioters while being attacked by a violent mob last summer, has a strong self-defense claim, legal experts have revealed.
Based on the law of self-defense and precedent, experts believe Rittenhouse acted lawfully when he fired his weapon.
In August 2020, when Rittenhouse was 17 years old, he was arrested for fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during a violent BLM-led riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
He is now facing potential life in prison after being charged with two felony counts of homicide and one count of felony attempted homicide.
In January, Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Prominent Colorado attorney and author Andrew Branca argues that Rittenhouse should be acquitted based on the facts of the case.
However, Branca notes that the high-profile case is not entirely predictable, adding, “innocent people get convicted all the time.”
The Associated Press reported Thursday, “Under self-defense law and precedent, Rittenhouse’s motives for being in Kenosha are irrelevant to whether he had a legal right to shoot when threatened, some legal experts say.
"What matters is what happened in the minutes surrounding the shooting, Branca said.”
The lawyer noted that whether Rittenhouse was legally carrying the gun or not “shouldn’t factor into his right to self-defense,” the report said.
"If I had a 17-year-old-son, I would not encourage him to engage in this kind of behavior," Branca said of Rittenhouse’s decision to go to the rioting area to help business owners.
"But poor judgment is not a crime,” added, noting that the defendant has a “strong case for self-defense,” according to the AP.
Paul Bucher, lawyer and former Waukesha County district attorney, agreed with Branca that Rittenhouse’s decision to go into the rioting area is not a crime, but said it will likely be a stumbling block with the jury.
“Everybody in that courtroom is going to be thinking he deserved what he got because he put himself in a hostile situation,” Bucher said, adding, “‘What are you doing down there with a gun?’”
Posted to Branca’s website, the lawyer said he believed the case should result in Rittenhouse’s acquittal:
[I]t has been my experience in these politically-energized use-of-force cases that begin with a quick, politically-clamored for arrest on charges as serious as murder, that as further evidence is developed it is invariably evidence consistent with innocence rather than consistent with guilt.
This was true of the George Zimmerman case, the Eric Garner case, the Freddie Gray case, the Mike Brown case, the Tamir Rice case, now the Jacob Blake case, and I expect the same will prove true of this Kyle Rittenhouse case, as well.
However, the high-profile trial result remains unclear.
“Trials are dangerous and unpredictable,” he said, according to the AP.
"Innocent people get convicted all the time.
"So it’s quite possible that Kyle Rittenhouse could be convicted in this case based on that kind of rhetoric, despite the legal merits of the charges.”
Notably, Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled Monday that prosecutors are barred from referring to the men shot by Rittenhouse as “victims,” while the defense team was permitted to refer to them as “rioters” and “looters.”
Judge Schroeder explained to Rittenhouse’s defense team that they may not refer to those shot in such terms during opening statements, but they can do so in closing arguments if evidence backs it up, The Chicago Tribune reported, according to The Hill.
“He can demonize them if he wants, if he thinks it will win points with the jury,” the judge reportedly said.
“The word victim is a loaded, loaded word,” Schroeder added, telling prosecution they can’t use the term “victim” to refer to those shot.
Though the decision riled up prosecution, it’s not entirely uncommon for a judge to set such restrictions.
The trial is set to begin Monday.