After several weeks of a closely-monitored trial, and 3 1/2 days of jury deliberation, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges related to the two people he killed and the one he wounded during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year. He was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering. The most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide, carries a life sentence.
The video above shows how Rittenhouse reacted to the not guilty verdict. He began to choke up, fell to the floor and then hugged one of his attorneys upon hearing the verdict. After the jurors were dismissed, Circuit Judger Bruce Schroeder assured them the court would take “every measure” to ensure they are safe.
Crowds had been forming at the courthouse for days leading up to the verdict. Last week, Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) pleaded for calm and said 500 National Guard members would be ready for duty in Kenosha if needed. His lieutenant governor was one of the first major officials to react to the not guilty verdict for Rittenhouse.
“Over the last few weeks, many dreaded the outcome we just witnessed,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said in a statement on Twitter. “The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is what we should expect from our judicial system, but that standard is not always applied equally. We have seen so many black and brown youth killed, only to be put on trial posthumously, while the innocence of Kyle Rittenhouse was virtually demanded by the judge.” Other political figures welcomed the verdict and condemned the case brought against Rittenhouse.
“All of us who knew what actually happened in Kenosha last year assumed this would be the verdict. Thankfully, the jury thought the same,” former Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) tweeted after the verdict. “Pray that the kind of violence seen then does not happen again.”
The trial reinvigorated the national conversation surrounding guns, self-defense, vigilantism and racial injustice. Prosecutors portrayed Rittenhouse as a “wannabe soldier” who had gone looking for trouble. They said he was responsible for creating a dangerous situation in the first place by pointing his rifle at demonstrators. In his testimony, which got emotional at times, Rittenhouse testified: “I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself.”