After a jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty in the fatal shooting of two men and wounding of a third during protests in Kenosha last year, prosecutors expressed disappointment in the decision, but asserted it must be respected.
Rittenhouse, now 18, was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly shootings that became a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice in the U.S.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger with the Kenosha County District Attorney's Office said that while the state was "disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected."
"We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations," Binger said in a statement. "The Kenosha community has endured much over the past 15 months, and yet we remain resilient and strong."
The prosecutor also urged residents in the Wisconsin community to "express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner."
Rittenhouse was 17 when he went to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, in what he said was an effort to protect property from rioters in the days after Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot by police.
In a fast-moving series of clashes in the streets, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.
During closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Binger said that Rittenhouse was a “wannabe soldier” who set the deadly chain of events in motion by bringing a rifle to a protest and pointing it at protesters just before he was chased.
But Rittenhouse lawyer Mark Richards countered that Rittenhouse was ambushed by a “crazy person” — Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum chased him down and made a grab for his rifle, causing him to fear the weapon was going to be used against him. His account of Rosenbaum’s behavior was largely corroborated by video and some of the prosecution’s own witnesses.
As for Huber, he was gunned down after he was seen on video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. And Grosskreutz admitted he had his own gun pointed at Rittenhouse when he was shot.