Kenosha, WI – The attorney for 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse has said he planned to argue that his client was part of a “well regulated Militia” and as such, couldn’t be charged for carrying a rifle at a riot because he was protected by the Second Amendment.
It’s likely that Rittenhouse’s attorney, John Pierce of Pierce Bainbridge, will say that Wisconsin’s ban on firearms for persons under age 18 is unconstitutional because the Founding Fathers expected and, and sometimes required, juveniles to have and bear arms for their colonies, NBC News reported.
The argument is basically that Wisconsin law violates the Second Amendment.
But some legal experts have argued that Wisconsin gun laws actually permitted Rittenhouse to carry the AR-15 in Kenosha on Aug. 23, when he shot three violent rioters who were chasing and threatening him.
Wisconsin law says that anyone under 18 who “goes armed” with a deadly weapon can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
However, the law has an exception for rifles and shotguns for 16 and 17 year olds that allows them to hunt.
Gun rights attorney John Monroe told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the hunting exception could apply to Rittenhouse.
Milwaukee defense attorney Tom Grieve agreed the exception might apply beyond hunting and said the law was badly drafted.
Grieve said he would argue to apply a rule of law that grants the win to the defendant in the case of ambiguous statutes, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Authorities have not yet said if Rittenhouse was inside a “gun-free zone” near a school when he shot his attackers.
Also, Rittenhouse is an Illinois resident and that state’s law prohibits anyone under 21 from having a gun, and requires gun owners to obtain and Firearms Owners Identification card, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Attorneys for Rittenhouse said the 17-year-old lifeguard did not own a gun.
“Kyle did not carry a gun across state line,” L. Lin Wood tweeted. “The gun belonged to his friend, a Wisconsin resident. The gun never left the state of Wisconsin.”
Waukesha defense attorney Anthony Cotton said that the gun charges against Rittenhouse are nothing compared to the homicide charges the teen is facing, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
But many gun rights advocates have said after seeing numerous videos of the shootings that they believe that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.
Both The New York Times analysis of the Kenosha riot videos and the criminal complaint charging teen Kyle Rittenhouse with the shootings suggest the 17 year old may have been acting in self-defense when he pulled the trigger.
Attorneys for Rittenhouse said the teen “has suddenly found himself at the center of a national firestorm and charged with murder after defending himself from a relentless, vicious and potentially deadly mob attack in Kenosha, Wisconsin,” WTMJ reported.
Pierce said in a press release on Friday that Rittenhouse had just finished up a shift at his summer job lifeguarding when he met a friend in Kenosha to help clean graffiti off a school building.
Then they heard about a business owner who needed help defending his business, so they armed themselves and volunteered, WTMJ reported.
The New York Times reported that for two hours prior to the shooting, Rittenhouse was with a group who said they were protecting private property at a gas station.
He rendered medical aid to protesters during that time, according to the newspaper.
But when Rittenhouse walked away from the car dealership a couple hours later, police would not let him return.
His attorney said in the press release that Rittenhouse had become concerned about protesters who were injured in the rioting and left his spot to go offer medical aid, WTMJ reported.
Six minutes later, video footage from the riots showed the 17 year old running for his life with a group of people chasing him, The New York Times reported.
“In the first video, a male who was later identified to be Kyle H. Rittenhouse … (hereinafter “the defendant”), is running southwest across the eastern portion of the Car Source parking lot. … Following the defendant is [Joseph] Rosenbaum and trailing behind the defendant and Rosenbaum is a male who was later identified as Richard McGinnis, a reporter,” the charging documents read.
The video showed Rittenhouse ran into the parking lot of another car dealership a couple of blocks away about the same time that an unknown gunman fired a shot into the air nearby.
The muzzle flash from the other shooter’s weapon can be seen in the video, according to The New York Times.
In the video, Rittenhouse turned toward the sound of gunfire and then Rosenbaum appeared to lunge at him.
“The video shows that as they cross the parking lot, Rosenbaum appears to throw an object at the defendant,” according to the criminal complaint. “The object does not hit the defendant and a second video shows, based on where the object landed, that it was a plastic bag.”
“Rosenbaum appears to be unarmed for the duration of this video,” the charging documents continued. “A review of the second video shows that the defendant and Rosenbaum continue to move across the parking lot and approach the front of a black car parked in the lot. A loud bang is heard on the video, then a male shouts, ‘F–k you!’, then Rosenbaum appears to continue to approach the defendant and gets in near proximity to the defendant when 4 more loud bangs are heard. Rosenbaum then falls to the ground.”
Pierce said that Rittenhouse had tried to run away from the confrontation, WTMJ reported.
“Upon the sound of a gunshot behind him, Kyle turned and was immediately faced with an attacker lunging towards him and reaching for his rifle. He reacted instantaneously and justifiably with his weapon to protect himself, firing and striking the attacker,” he said.
Charging documents showed Daily Caller reporter Richard McGinnis, who interviewed Rittenhouse earlier in the evening and was present for the first shooting told police he saw Rosenbaum confront the teen.
“McGinnis stated that as the defendant was walking Rosenbaum was trying to get closer to the defendant,” the complaint read. “When Rosenbaum advanced, the defendant did a ‘juke’ move and started running.”
“McGinnis stated that there were other people that were moving very quickly. McGinnis stated that they were moving towards the defendant. McGinnis said that according to what he saw the defendant was trying to evade these individuals,” according to the charging documents.
The reporter told police that Rittenhouse was holding his weapon at low-ready.
“McGinnis stated that the first round went into the ground and when the second shot went off, the defendant actually had the gun aimed at Rosenbaum,” the complaint read. “McGinnis stated he did not hear the two exchange any words. McGinnis said that the unarmed guy [Rosenbaum] was trying to get the defendant’s gun. McGinnis demonstrated by extending both of his hands in a quick grabbing motion and did that as a visual on how Rosenbaum tried to reach for the defendant’s gun.”
He told police that when Rosenbaum tried to take the gun from Rittenhouse, the 17 year old pulled it away from his attacker and raised it.
“McGinnis stated that right as they came together, the defendant fired,” the charging documents read.
The reporter told police that Rosenbaum was leaning in toward Rittenhouse when he was shot.
The charging documents stated that the “defendant then circles behind the black car and approaches Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum remains on the ground. McGinnis also approaches, removes his shirt, and attempts to render aid to Rosenbaum.”
“The defendant appears to get on his cell phone and place a call,” the complaint read. “Another male approaches, and the defendant turns and begins to run away from the scene. As the defendant is running away, he can be heard saying on the phone, ‘I just killed somebody.’”
In the video, someone is heard yelling “that’s the shooter” as Rittenhouse fled, The New York Times reported.
Then the video showed the 17-year-old tripped and fell, which allowed his pursuers to catch up with him.
“As the defendant is on the ground, an unidentified male wearing a dark-colored top and lightcolored pants jumps at and over the defendant,” the complaint continued. “Based on the sounds of gunshots on the video and the positioning of the defendant’s gun, it appears that he fires two shots in quick succession at this person. It appears that that person was not hit as he then runs away from the defendant.”
“A second person who was later identified as Anthony Huber approaches the defendant who is still on the ground, on his back. Huber has a skateboard in his right hand,” according to charging documents. “When Huber reaches the defendant it appears that he is reaching for the defendant’s gun with his left hand as the skateboard makes contact with the defendant’s left shoulder. Huber appears to be trying to pull the gun away from the defendant.”
“The defendant rolls towards his left side and as Huber appears to be trying to grab the gun [that] is pointed at Huber’s body. The defendant then fires one round which can be heard on the video. Huber staggers away, taking several steps, then collapses to the ground,” the complaint read.
Huber was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound at the scene.
At that point, Rittenhouse was attacked by a man armed with a pistol, The New York Times reported.
“After shooting Huber, the defendant moves to a seated position and points his gun at a third male, later identified as Gaige Grosskreutz, who had begun to approach the defendant,” the charging documents continued. “When the defendant shot Huber, Grosskreutz freezes and ducks and takes a step back. Grosskreutz puts his hands in the air. Grosskreutz then moves towards the defendant who aims his gun at Grosskreutz and shoots him, firing 1 shot.”
“Grosskreutz was shot in the right arm,” the complaint read. “Grosskreutz appears to be holding a handgun in his right hand when he was shot. Grosskreutz then runs southbound away from the defendant screaming for a medic and the defendant gets up and starts walking northbound. The defendant turns around facing southbound while walking backwards northbound with his firearm in a ready position, pointed towards the people in the roadway.”
It’s important to note that The New York Times analysis determined that “Mr. Rittenhouse’s gunfire is mixed in with the sound of at least 16 other gunshots that ring out during this time.”
Rittenhouse’s attorneys said their client was scared to death of the mob pursuing him, WTMJ reported.
“In fear for his life and concerned the crowd would either continue to shoot at him or even use his own weapon against him, Kyle had no choice but to fire multiple rounds towards his immediate attackers, striking two, including one armed attacker,” Pierce argued in the press release. “The rest of the mob began to disperse upon hearing the additional gunshots.”
Then Rittenhouse got up and began walking toward a row of police in tactical vehicles who were waiting for the gunfire to stop before they approached the scene.
He appeared in the videos to have been trying to surrender himself to the officers but the police drove right past him, The New York Times reported.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have criticized the Kenosha Police Department’s handling of the incident, the police chief’s statement that called the 17 year old’s attackers “peaceful protesters.”
Pierce said in his press release that Rittenhouse became a convenient political target, WTMJ reported.
“After learning Kyle may have had conservative political viewpoints, they immediately saw him as a convenient target who they could use as a scapegoat to distract from the Jacob Blake shooting and the government’s abject failure to ensure basic law and order to citizens,” the attorney said.
Rittenhouse surrendered himself to officers in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois the day after the shootings, WTMJ reported.
His extradition hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25.