Many of the prosecution’s witnesses in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial suggested the teenager opened fire in self-defense

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Kyle Rittenhouse enters the courtroom during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 9, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mark Hertzberg/Pool via Getty Images
  • Prosecutors rested their homicide case against Kyle Rittenhouse on Tuesday.
  • Many of the witnesses they called made statements that supported Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim.
  • The lone shooting survivor, Gaige Grosskreutz, even acknowledged he had pointed his gun at the teen.

Prosecutors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial rested their case Tuesday after presenting more than 20 witnesses, many of whom explicitly or inadvertently made statements that supported the defense’s self-defense case.

Rittenhouse has said he shot three men on August 25, 2020, because they each pursued him on the streets of downtown Kenosha. Rittenhouse is charged with fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, during that night’s protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Most of the charges hinge upon whether the then-17-year-old reasonably feared for his life at the moment he pulled the trigger. According to many of the state’s witnesses – including the only survivor of the shootings – Rittenhouse didn’t pull the trigger until each of the men approached him and made threatening-looking movements.

The first man Rittenhouse shot, 36-year-old Rosenbaum, had chased Rittenhouse into the parking lot of a car dealership and lunged for the teenager’s AR-15 rifle, according to Richie McGinniss, a videographer who was just feet behind the pair.

Many of the prosecution’s witnesses described Rosenbaum’s conduct that evening in colorful terms. Rosenbaum was “hyper-aggressive” and “aggravated,” according to Ryan Balch, who said he was one of the armed civilians guarding local businesses alongside Rittenhouse that evening. Rosenbaum was “behaving erratically,” Kenosha live-streamer Koerri Washington testified. Jason Lackowski, another armed civilian, described Rosenbaum as “a babbling idiot.”

Even Rosenbaum’s fiancee, Kariann Swart, testified that she had warned Rosenbaum not to go downtown that evening due to the civil unrest. She also testified about the medications Rosenbaum was taking for bipolar disorder.

Prosecutors repeatedly asked witnesses whether they had ever personally seen Rosenbaum hitting, punching, or kicking another person, or carrying or using weapons. The state’s witnesses all agreed that they hadn’t.

A key witness testified that Rosenbaum lunged for Rittenhouse’s gun

Balch and Lackowski said they saw Rosenbaum attempting to set fires, being restrained by other people, and using the N-word while shouting at armed men to “shoot me.” Balch said Rosenbaum even threatened him and Rittenhouse, warning, “I catch any of you guys alone tonight, I’m going to fucking kill you.”

McGinniss, the video director for the conservative news website The Daily Caller, testified that he witnessed Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse that evening. McGinniss even performed a physical demonstration of Rosenbaum’s movements, testifying that Rosenbaum adopted a “low” and “athletic” position, then lunged forward and reached toward the barrel of Rittenhouse’s gun.

“It was very clear to me that he was reaching specifically for the weapon, because that’s where his hands went,” McGinniss said. “The rifle was lower than where [Rosenbaum’s] hands were, so [Rosenbaum’s] hands were going down… Kyle Rittenhouse dodged around it, and then leveled the weapon, and fired.”

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Richard ‘Richie’ McGinniss, chief video director of The Daily Caller, demonstrates how Joseph Rosenbaum dove to the ground while testifying during Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via Associated Press

Dr. Douglas Kelley, a forensic pathologist who examined Rosenbaum’s body, testified that Rosenbaum was shot four times at a close range within four feet. Kelley said the first shots went into Rosenbaum’s groin, hand, and thigh while he faced forward, and the final two shots went into his head and back at a downward angle as he turned horizontally to Rittenhouse.

Prosecutors suggested that the angle of the final two shots meant that Rosenbaum was falling while he was shot, while Rittenhouse’s attorneys argued that the angle of the shots signaled Rosenbaum was lunging at Rittenhouse. Kelley testified that both scenarios were possible.

Grosskreutz agreed that he had pointed his gun at Rittenhouse

The second man Rittenhouse shot, 26-year-old Huber, was seen on video swinging a skateboard at Rittenhouse shortly after the Rosenbaum shooting. A crowd of people had chased the teenager down Sheridan Road, and Rittenhouse at one point fell to the ground and aimed his rifle at the men running up to him.

Grosskreutz, the only man who survived being shot that night, is a trained EMT and paramedic who was volunteering and live-streaming in Kenosha. He testified that as he ran towards Rittenhouse, who was still lying on the ground, he saw two men approach the teenager first – one of whom was Huber.

“I’d seen an individual jump over the defendant, then heard two shots, and from there I saw another individual use a skateboard to hit the defendant,” Grosskreutz said, referring to Huber. “From there, I heard another shot.”

Grosskreutz testified that he believed he was running after an active shooter. He said that Rittenhouse made confusing comments to him as he initially ran past, then saw a group of people running after Rittenhouse and yelling that the teenager had just shot someone.

Grosskreutz said he drew his pistol from a holster concealed at the small of his back, then ran towards Rittenhouse, too. Videos and photos show Grosskreutz approaching Rittenhouse and briefly pausing to raise both hands in the air, then darting forward with the pistol still in his hand. Rittenhouse then opened fire, blowing off Grosskreutz’s bicep.

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Gaige Grosskreutz, holding a handgun in his right hand, can be seen clashing with Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, 2020. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Grosskreutz testified that he “was never trying to kill” Rittenhouse, and that he darted forward because he believed Rittenhouse was “re-racking” his weapon and refusing to accept Grosskreutz’s surrender.

Upon cross-examination, Grosskreutz agreed that his gun had been pointed at Rittenhouse as the teenager opened fire.

“It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him with your gun – now your hands down, pointed at him – that he fired, correct?” Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafisi said.

“Correct,” Grosskreutz said.