Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with five felonies including multiple counts of first-degree homicide, defended his actions to prosecutors on Wednesday, asserting “I did what I had to do.”
Rittenhouse faced examination from his own defense attorney, Mark Richards, for part of the morning before Richards turned his client over to cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger. Binger immediately pressed Rittenhouse on why he used deadly force against three men, two of whom died, during riots last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse asserted that he only did what was necessary to protect himself, keep his weapon from being stolen from him, and deter the attackers. Binger’s line of questioning began:
Thomas Binger: Everybody that you shot at that night, you intended to kill. Correct?
Kyle Rittenhouse: I didn’t intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me.
TB: By killing them.
KR: I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me.
TB: By killing them.
KR: Two of them passed away, but I stopped the threat from attacking me.
TB: By using deadly force.
KR: I used deadly force.
TB: That you knew was going to kill.
KR: I didn’t know if it was going to kill them, but I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me.
Binger continued to press Rittenhouse on why the teen used his rifle against the men he shot. Binger focused on Joseph Rosenbaum, who Rittenhouse shot and killed as Rosenbaum was lunging toward him potentially attempting to grab the rifle, according to the earlier testimony of a forensic pathologist. Binger continued to claim that Rittenhouse “intended” to kill Rosenbaum.
“I didn’t intend to kill him. I intended to stop the person who was attacking me and trying to steal my gun,” Rittenhouse said. After Rittenhouse’s last answer, Binger moved on to another line of questioning.
Rittenhouse had earlier in the day broken down as he attempted to discuss the moments in which he killed two men and wounded a third on the night of August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse fatally shot two men during the chaotic and violent riots that shook Kenosha after the lawful police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse broke down in tears as he began to recount shooting Rosenbaum. As The Daily Wire reported:
Testifying on the stand Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, broke down into sobs while recalling the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse, detailing the moments before he fired on Rosenbaum recalled Rosenbaum yelling “burn in hell” to him before Rittenhouse yelled “friendly, friendly, friendly!” in an attempt to calm Rosenbaum. But he was chased.
Rittenhouse described feeling “trapped” by Rosenbaum and another man, identified during the trial as Joshua Ziminski, who fired his pistol in the air. The teen said the man had the pistol pointed at him during the incident.
Before describing his actions to fire, Rittenhouse sobbed uncontrollably and a ten minute recess was called.
Rittenhouse is on trial facing six total charges: five felonies and one misdemeanor. The felony charges are intentional homicide, reckless homicide, attempted intentional homicide, and two counts of reckless endangerment. The misdemeanor charge is underage possession of a deadly weapon.