First Witness in Kyle Rittenhouse’s Trial Bought Him the Gun
Opening statements from the prosecution and defense were followed by testimony from a friend of Mr. Rittenhouse, an F.B.I. agent and a witness to the unrest in Kenosha, Wis.,
Takeaways from the first day of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
- Nov. 2, 2021, 7:19 p.m. ET
After a single day of jury selection, the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse got underway on Tuesday with the prosecution and defense offering starkly differing interpretations of the events that led to Mr. Rittenhouse shooting three men — two of them fatally — in the aftermath of demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020. At the center of the case is whether Mr. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.
The day began with opening statements from the prosecution and defense, and ended with testimony from Koerri Washington, a Kenosha resident who live-streamed the protests in 2020. In between came testimony from Dominick Black, a friend of Mr. Rittenhouse who purchased the gun used in the shooting, and from an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, whose testimony was withheld from the public for security reasons.
Here is what happened:
Prosecution’s opening statement
The lead prosecutor — Thomas Binger, a Kenosha County assistant district attorney — portrayed Mr. Rittenhouse as an outsider who traveled to Kenosha from Antioch, Ill., and added to the civil unrest in the city. Mr. Binger said that hundreds of people experienced the “chaos” of that August night — the loud noises, the gunfire, the tear gas and hostile standoffs in the streets between people with opposing views — and yet “the only one who killed anyone was the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse.”
Mr. Binger focused on the shooting death of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person who was shot, saying the fatal shot hit him in the back after he fell forward, already struck by shots to his pelvis and thigh. Mr. Rittenhouse, who was carrying a medic’s bag and offered assistance to protesters that evening, did not offer any aid to Mr. Rosenbaum, and instead fled up the street after the shooting, Mr. Binger said.
Defense’s opening statement
The defense, led by Mark Richards, painted Mr. Rittenhouse as someone with strong ties to Kenosha, saying his father lived in the city and that Mr. Rittenhouse once worked as a lifeguard in the area. Mr. Richards said Mr. Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha with innocent motives and joined others in guarding businesses.
Using photos and video clips, Mr. Richards said Mr. Rittenhouse was pursued on the fateful night by Mr. Rosenbaum and other protesters, who Mr. Richards said “attacked him in the street like an animal.” Ultimately, he said, the case was not about whether Mr. Rittenhouse had done the shooting but about whether his actions were privileged under the law of self-defense.
The first witness called by the prosecution was Mr. Black, a friend of Mr. Rittenhouse who had dated Mr. Rittenhouse’s sister. Mr. Black faces charges for purchasing the gun for Mr. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time and too young to buy or carry it legally. Mr. Black acknowledged that he was cooperating with prosecutors in the hope of avoiding prison time.
An F.B.I. agent, Brandon Cramin, testified about aerial surveillance of the events in Kenosha on the night of the shooting. For security reasons, the testimony was not made public.
The day concluded with testimony from Koerri Washington, a Kenosha resident who witnessed and recorded video of some of the protests in the city surrounding the time of the shooting.