Kenosha, WI – Kenosha police have charged a Racine man who may have fired the first shot during the chaos the night Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people during the riots after the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake.
Charging documents said that 35-year-old Joshua Ziminski and his wife both admitted to police after the Aug. 25 incident that he had fired a warning shot in the air near 63rd Street and Sheridan Road that night, WISN reported.
Detectives were charged with investigating what actually happened after the chaotic night in Kenosha, WTMJ reported.
Police reviewed the many cell phone and security videos available from that bloody night looking for evidence against Rittenhouse and spotted Ziminski firing a shot toward the sky.
A detective said in the criminal complaint that he located Ziminski and his wife in multiple videos and that the man was carrying a handgun down at his side in them, WISN reported.
Investigators said in the charging documents that police had seen Ziminski pointing his gun at the sky, saw a muzzle flash, and heard a gunshot at the same time in the videos.
Cell phone videos of the incident showed that the 17-year-old Rittenhouse was running away from angry protesters when Ziminski fired the shot, and the teen turned to look for where the gunfire was coming from when he heard it, the Daily Mail reported.
That was when one of the people chasing Rittenhouse – 36-year-old Joseph Rosenblum – lunged at him from the same direction as the gunfire, and Rittenhouse fired his weapon and shot him in the head.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have said their teen client was afraid for his life and acting in self-defense the night he fired his weapon in Kenosha, the Daily Mail reported.
Legal experts have said the charges against Ziminski will bolster the defense’s argument that Rittenhouse didn’t set out to hurt or kill anyone that August night.
According to the complaint, another video showed Ziminski walking around during the melee in the same area and then raising his arm into the air and firing a shot, WISN reported.
He and his wife are seen leaving the area in the videos, the charging documents said.
Ziminski’s wife had striking red hair that was easy to spot in the videos, the Daily Mail reported.
Kenosha police charged Ziminski on Oct. 9 with disorderly conduct and use of a dangerous weapon, WISN reported.
He appeared at a virtual arraignment in Kenosha County Court and pleaded not guilty to the charges, the Daily Mail reported.
Ziminski claimed that the gun he fired the night of the riot had since been stolen.
He was a released on a $1,000 cash bond and the judge barred him from having any weapons or discussing the case with his wife, the Daily Mail reported.
If convicted, Ziminski could face up to 90 days behind bars for the crime.
He is due to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 4, WTMJ reported.
Rittenhouse was arrested at his home in Antioch, Illinois and has remained in the Lake County Jail as his attorneys fight extradition to Kenosha.
Wisconsin authorities have charged Rittenhouse with five felonies including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and a misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor, WEAR reported.
A Waukegan judge granted Rittenhouse a month-long reprieve before his extradition hearing to assemble a legal team to defend him.
But when the top-notch defense team appeared with the 17 year old at a virtual hearing on Oct. 9, they argued it would be dangerous to extradite Rittenhouse, citing concerns about retaliation and the highly-charged political climate, ABC News reported.
Attorneys for Rittenhouse have said that their client was protected under Wisconsin law and the Second Amendment when he defended himself during the riots.
“There is a massive amount of video evidence that shows… beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not a legitimate criminal prosecution, it is a political prosecution,” attorney John Pierce told the judge.
Pierce said he needed more time to challenge the extradition, ABC News reported.
“There is a presidential candidate in the heat of arguably the most heated election, perhaps ever, certainly since 1860, that has inflamed the situation, and we simply ask that that this detainee’s due process rights be observed so we can challenge this in a proper way and ensure that this is a legitimate criminal prosecution and not something else,” the attorney for Rittenhouse told the judge.
Pierce didn’t mention a specific candidate during the hearing, attorneys for the Rittenhouse announced plans to sue former Vice President Joe Biden and his campaign for labeling him a white supremacist in a video ad launched the morning after the first Presidential debate.
The judge gave prosecutors seven days to respond to the motion by defense attorneys and scheduled an in-person hearing for Oct. 30, ABC News reported.
It was unclear whether the judge planned to rule on extradition at the time, just four day ahead of the election.