A witness in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse testified Tuesday that prosecutors pushed him to change his statement to the police.
Amateur photographer Nathan DeBruin took the stand on Tuesday as one of four defense witnesses called that day. During his testimony, DeBruin recounted an earlier, uncomfortable meeting with prosecutors in which DeBruin said they pushed him to change a statement he gave to police regarding another man, Joshua Ziminski, whom prosecutors have charged with arson.
During the defense examination of the witness, defense attorney Mark Richards asked DeBruin to describe the meeting he had had with Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger and Assistant District Attorney James Kraus.
“I was called down to the district attorney’s office. I met with Mr. Binger and [Kraus] … I was called into a room, sat at a table, handed my police statement, got to read over my police statement, and then I was asked if I would like to add anything to the police statement, and I said I would not,” DeBruin began.
“Mr. Binger pulled out a cell phone and showed me a video and also a photo – which was actually one photo that I brought today – and asked me if I knew who a gentleman was in that photo, and I said I did not. … He said, ‘This is Joshua Ziminski.’ Mr. Binger also has a case with him, and I am subpoenaed for that case also,” he continued. “He says, ‘Well, that’s who that is.’ He put the phone down. He picked the phone back up and says, ‘Who is this?’ And I confusingly said, like, Joshua Ziminski, and he said, ‘Would you like to add that to your statement?’ and I just felt I didn’t want to change my statement.”
DeBruin said that after that meeting he retained counsel. Richards closed his examination after the exchange.
Under cross-examination by Kraus, DeBruin testified that the prosecution asked him to “change” his statement, suggesting that prosecutors wanted DeBruin to give the police false information regarding his knowledge about Ziminski.
Kraus began his line of questioning with the meeting the team of prosecutors had with DeBruin. The witness confirmed that he had been “very nervous” for the meeting. Then Kraus pushed DeBruin over the back-and-forth related to his police statement on Ziminski.
“We had you read over your statement, right?” Kraus asked.
“Correct,” DeBruin responded.
“And we asked if you knew anything beyond that statement,” the prosecutor continued.
“Correct,” DeBruin again responded.
“We didn’t ask you to change it,” Kraus stated.
DeBruin contradicted the prosecutor immediately. “Yes, you did,” the witness said. DeBruin later explained that prosecutors asked him “if I wanted to change any details if I remember anything else throughout that night and to add ‘Joshua Ziminski.’”
Ziminski has come up before in Rittenhouse’s trial. In opening statements, prosecutors and the defense said Ziminski fired shots into the air moments before Rittenhouse turned and fatally shot 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum in August 2020 during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The defense team said that Rosenbaum and Ziminski together followed Rittenhouse. As The Daily Wire reported:
After the initial confrontation with Rosenbaum, the 36-year-old began following Rittenhouse. Rosenbaum was joined by Ziminski, Richards said, showing a photograph purportedly of the two men burning a vehicle and dumpster together earlier that night.
Rosenbaum had earlier in the night threatened to kill Rittenhouse and a friend, telling the two, “If I get either of you two alone, I’m going to kill you,” according to Richards. As Rosenbaum followed Rittenhouse, he continued to threaten the teen. After Rittenhouse turned away from Rosenbaum the second time, Ziminski fired shots in the air and Rosenbaum rushed Rittenhouse, screaming “f*** you,” Richards said.