Kyle Rittenhouse

Kenosha Police Vow to ‘Ensure Safety' as Rittenhouse Verdict Nears

NOTE: NBC Chicago will provide a live feed from the courtroom as available throughout the trial. Watch live in the player above. Warning that some of the content and images shown during the trial may be graphic and disturbing for some viewers.

Kenosha police released a statement Thursday afternoon, vowing to "ensure the safety" of the community as Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial nears an end.

The Kenosha County Sheriff's Department said that officers are monitoring the trial and will work with other law enforcement partners to to prepare as the court moves closer to reaching a verdict.

Here was their statement:

The Kenosha County Sheriff's Department and the Kenosha Police Department have been and will continue to monitor the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. We recognize that some varying opinions and feelings revolve around the trial that may cause concerns. Both of our departments have dedicated staff working in conjunction with local, State, and Federal law enforcement to ensure the safety of our communities.

Kenosha officials added that people can follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts for the latest safety information surrounding the outcome of the trial.

LIVE COVERAGE: A live feed of Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial is available when court is in session.

Business-owners in Kenosha, like Anne Benson of Oliver's Bakery, are also preparing for possible outcomes to the trial, which could arrive early next week.

"I don’t know what’s going to happen when the verdict it comes out," said Anne Benson. "Whether the town is going to be upset or, you know, you never know."

Benson said her focus is on her bakery, which struggled during the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of the outcome in the high profile case, she hopes Kenosha can move forward and finally close a dark chapter in the town’s history.

"Somebody asked me, 'Do you still have your boards?' Yes I do. I didn’t get rid of them," Benson said. "They’re just put in a place of storage for now. I hope it doesn’t come to that."

As Rittenhouse finished his testimony Wednesday, the judge in the case indicated jurors could begin deliberations by Monday, but that timeline could shift as the judge admitted Thursday morning that he had his days confused.

Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said he believed Rittenhouse was testifying on Thursday, but the day was actually Wednesday. The shift in timeline means closing arguments could be heard by Friday, depending on how long testimony from the defense's final witnesses lasts.

Rittenhouse's attorneys said they would likely call three more witnesses to the stand following Rittenhouse. The first of those witnesses began his testimony Thursday morning.

Rittenhouse testified before a jury Wednesday about the moments he opened fire on three people during unrest in Kenosha, growing so emotional at times that the judge in the case called for a break.

Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand during his murder trial, but his testimony was briefly halted as the teen began to discuss the moments he first fired his gun on Aug. 25, 2020 during Kenosha unrest.

Rittenhouse, now 18, killed two men and wounded a third during a night of turbulent demonstrations against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020.

The former police youth cadet from Antioch, Illinois, had gone to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to protect property from the damaging protests that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.

While Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot, the case has stirred debate over vigilantism, the right to bear arms and the unrest that erupted around the U.S. that summer over the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against Black people.

Wisconsin’s self-defense law allows someone to use deadly force only if “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” The jury must decide whether Rittenhouse believed he was in such peril and whether that belief was reasonable under the circumstances.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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