MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge was set to decide Friday whether jurors at the trial of a man accused of killing two men and wounding a third during a police brutality protest in Wisconsin last year will see video that prosecutors say shows him talking about wanting to shoot people.
It’s among several requests that Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder will consider to determine what evidence and testimony will be allowed during Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial. Friday’s hearing is expected to be the last before the trial begins with jury selection on Nov. 1.
Rittenhouse shot the men after coming to Kenosha from his home about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away in Antioch, Illinois, on Aug. 25, 2020, having seen a post on social media asking people to help protect businesses from protesters. The city was in the throes of several days of chaotic demonstrations sparked by a white police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man, after the officer responded to a domestic disturbance. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
Prosecutors say a 29-second video taken 15 days before the protest shootings shows Rittenhouse watching some men exit a CVS Pharmacy store and commenting that he wished he had his rifle so he could shoot them. Prosecutors say it’s evidence of Rittenhouse’s eagerness to use deadly force.
He faces multiple charges in the protest shootings, including two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and illegal firearm possession. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, opened fire with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle on Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, and Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, killing both. He also shot Gaige Grosskreutz, of West Allis, who survived.
Rittenhouse maintains that the three men — all white — attacked him and he fired in self-defense. His arrest quickly became a rallying cry for conservatives and gun rights advocates frustrated with protests over police shootings across the country; conservatives covered his $2 million bail with donations. Black Lives Matter supporters have portrayed Rittenhouse, who is white, as a trigger-happy racist.