Kyle Rittenhouse Murdered Two, Found Not Guilty
US court acquitted a teen who murdered two and injured others during protests against police brutality in Wisconsin, as Republicans welcome the verdict.
Kyle Rittenhouse, an American teenager who shot and murdered two men and wounded another during protests against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, was acquitted of all charges on Friday.
A jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of reckless and intentional homicide and other charges caused by the shootings that took place in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse, 18, who claimed the shootings were in self-defense, testified during the two-week trial that he shot the three men with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle after allegedly being attacked.
Prosecutors dismissed the self-defense claim, saying it was Rittenhouse who provoked the events during a night of unrest in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse faced five charges - one count of intentional homicide, one count of reckless homicide, one count of attempted intentional homicide, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety.
The most serious charge - intentional homicide - carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The jury deliberated for four days before delivering a unanimous verdict of not guilty on all counts.
Civil unrest erupted in Kenosha, a city of 100,000 on the shores of Lake Michigan, in August 2020 after a white policeman shot a black man, Jacob Blake, several times during an arrest, leaving him paralyzed.
In right-wing and pro-gun circles, Rittenhouse, who claimed he went to Kenosha to protect businesses from arsonists and looters and act as a medic, was painted as a heroic figure.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was among the first to react to the verdict, describing it as "disgusting."
"It sends a horrible message to this country," De Blasio expressed in a tweet. "To call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement."
This verdict is disgusting and it sends a horrible message to this country.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 19, 2021
Where is the justice in this?
We can't let this go. We need stronger laws to stop violent extremism from within our own nation.
Now is the time. https://t.co/r8TTicFn0U
On the other hand, Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson welcomed the verdict and said "Justice has been served."
"I hope everyone can accept the verdict, remain peaceful, and let the community of Kenosha heal and rebuild," he added.
Testifying in court, Rittenhouse stated he "didn't do anything wrong."
"I defended myself," he said. "I did not intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me."
Prosecutors said Rittenhouse, who lived in the neighboring state of Illinois, had come to Kenosha as a self-appointed "junior policeman" and "made a series of reckless decisions."