Friend Who Bought Gun For Rittenhouse is First Trial Witness

The court heard from Dominick Black, who faces charges of his own for giving Kyle Rittenhouse the semiautomatic rifle he used to shoot three men, two fatally, in Kenosha, Wis.,

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The friend who bought the weapon used by Kyle Rittenhouse was the first witness to testify.

Dominick Black was sworn in to testify in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial on Tuesday.
Dominick Black was sworn in to testify in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial on Tuesday.Credit…Pool photo by Sean Krajacic

By Dan Hinkel

  • Nov. 2, 2021, 6:03 p.m. ET

The prosecution in Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial called as its first witness on Tuesday the friend who bought the military-style semiautomatic rifle that Mr. Rittenhouse used to shoot three people, two of them fatally, during the unrest in Kenosha last year.

The friend, Dominick Black, now 20, acknowledged that he was cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of avoiding prison. Mr. Black faces two felony charges for giving the gun to Mr. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time and too young to buy it legally himself.

Mr. Black testified that he dated Mr. Rittenhouse’s sister and that he and the defendant once considered each other brothers.

Mr. Black told the court that he bought the gun and stored it at his stepfather’s house for Mr. Rittenhouse. He recalled that on the day of the shooting in August 2020, he and Mr. Rittenhouse had gone to downtown Kenosha together, with Mr. Black carrying a nearly identical gun of his own. He said they had cleaned graffiti there, before eventually joining other men guarding several used-car lots. People had set fire to cars at one of the lots earlier in the unrest.

Thomas Binger, an assistant district attorney and the lead prosecutor, emphasized the differences between Mr. Black’s actions that night and Mr. Rittenhouse’s actions. Mr. Black testified that he stayed on the roof of a building at one of the car lots, because he thought he would be safer there than mingling with agitated crowds that included people who were lighting fires and throwing rocks.

Mr. Rittenhouse, by contrast, was out on the street when he shot the men. Mr. Black did not witness any of the shootings.

“Did you ever consider using your gun to shoot anyone?” Mr. Binger asked.

“No,” Mr. Black answered.

Mr. Rittenhouse’s lead defense lawyer, Mark Richards, used his cross-examination to point out Mr. Black’s admitted interest in testifying. Mr. Richards also drew out testimony from Mr. Black that other people who were with Mr. Rittenhouse and Mr. Black that night had suggested that Mr. Rittenhouse stay out on the street, because he was acting as a medic. Mr. Black also testified that someone from their group told Mr. Rittenhouse to go and protect the lot where Mr. Rittenhouse shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36.

Mr. Richards asked Mr. Black if he tried to stop his friend from going downtown with a gun.

“I didn’t say anything,” Mr. Black said.

For their second witness, prosecutors called an F.B.I. agent, Brandon Cramin, to testify about aerial surveillance of the protest on the night of the shooting.

After Agent Cramin took the stand, prosecutors played a grainy black-and-white video taken from an airplane flying 8,500 feet overheard, according to a pool report.

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