KENOSHA, WIS. — A witness to the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings who warned the teen before the deadly incident not to rile protesters expressed skepticism about the murder case against him, saying the first man Rittenhouse killed was “obviously” chasing him.
Kristan Harris, a self-described citizen journalist and editor of Milwaukee-based outlet TheRundownLive, was in Kenosha, Wisconsin, livestreaming the unrest on Facebook on August 25 last year, the night Rittenhouse shot three men. Kenosha had devolved following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.
During the first week of the trial, prosecutors argued that Rittenhouse had chased the first man he shot, Joseph Rosenbaum. Harris said video evidence tells a different story.
“He’s obviously pursuing him. He made threats. I don’t know if the case is going to hold much,” Harris told The Daily Wire in an interview last week at the Kenosha County Courthouse.
“I do believe Rittenhouse will for sure get charged with having a weapon and being underage. I don’t know. I’m not a judge,” Harris added.
While Rittenhouse was attempting to protect a local used car dealership in downtown Kenosha, he was chased by protesters and fatally shot two people, Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injured a third person, Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse has pled not guilty to charges of homicide and attempted homicide. His attorneys argue he acted in self-defense.
Harris had several interactions with Rittenhouse and other armed citizens prior to the shootings.
At one point during Harris’ livestream, Rittenhouse can be heard telling Harris that he is a “medic.” Harris cautioned him not to “look for trouble” with protesters, telling him, “they have their own medics.” He told Rittenhouse “I know you’re just trying to make peace.”
Harris also warned the armed men, “this whole crowd could burn you guys alive if you say the wrong thing.” Protesters were upset because a dumpster fire had been put out.
The second and third shootings happened about 100 feet in front of him, Harris said, and about five minutes later, his camera battery died.
On Wednesday, the prosecution clashed with the judge over showing Harris’ livestream video to the jury as evidence.
The defense objected to the audio of the footage, saying Harris was “editorializing” in his narration, making it “hearsay” and therefore unacceptable. Harris repeatedly referred to Rittenhouse and the other armed men near him as a “militia.”
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger argued that Harris’ narration helped to illustrate Rittenhouse’s “state of mind” at the time, a suggestion that prompted scoffs from the defense.
“Unless this un-subpoenaed person can read minds, that’s a ridiculous argument. This narrator is going to prove my client’s state of mind? That’s absurd,” attorney Mark Richards said.
As a result of the controversy, Harris was subpoenaed and testified at the trial on Monday.
When asked by the defense whether he had any information that Rittenhouse was “in any type of militia,” Harris said no.
“My intent to cover that part of the story wasn’t because I wanted to support or I want to empower militia or armed citizens,” Harris explained to The Daily Wire, adding that he “can understand why” the defense had an issue with the term.
Rather, he began following the armed men because they were a “different story” than the unrest he had been filming in Kenosha for two days.
Harris told the court that he warned the armed men because he was trying to “deescalate the situation” but agreed with the defense that Rittenhouse was not acting aggressively or verbally threatening anyone.
“He was offering help,” Harris said.
“It was interesting,” Harris told The Daily Wire last week. “I’d like to say that it was entertaining or exciting, but the whole process of reliving and going through a lot of these things, this was a crazy situation, a violent situation.”
Harris said he covers lots of riots and protests, and often few people show up. This time, however, was different. Now, watching the videos back triggers “a little PTSD” he said with a nervous smile.
“The whole situation, it’s sad because nobody had to die,” Harris said. “And there’s nobody made a good decision, not the law enforcement, not Rittenhouse, not the armed citizens, not the protesters.”
“Even when we watch this trial, everyone’s programmed to be very tribal about it,” Harris said. “I’m happy with a just, honest, unpoliticized outcome. I want whatever is right. You know, just because you make wrong or bad decisions necessarily doesn’t mean that it was illegal.”