Kyle Rittenhouse broke down on the witness stand on Wednesday while testifying that he fired in self defense in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Aug. 25, 2020, killing two people and injuring a third.
Rittenhouse, 18, said he fired on Joseph Rosenbaum after being ambushed.
“The person that attacked me first threatened to kill me twice,” Rittenhouse said while answering preliminary questions about the fatal incident.
“The first time was me and Ryan Balch were at 59th and Sheridan,” the defendant testified. “Rosenbaum was walking with chain and blue mask.”
“If I catch any of you fuckers alone, I’m going to fucking kill you,” Rosenbaum said, according to Rittenhouse.
A second time, outside a Car Source lot, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum said the following: “I’m going to cut your fucking hearts out — and, I’m not going to repeat the second word — and kill you, n-words.”
The second set of comments may have been directed at his comrades, Rittenhouse said, but he testified that he clearly heard it.
After recapping his movements that night, Rittenhouse broke down on the witness stand when describing re-encountering Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse said he ran to Car Source lot number three because his comrade Dominick Black called him to help protect the inventory from being set on fire and “bashed.” Rittenhouse said he ran to the scene “to put out the fires, pausing occasionally to catch my breath and walk.”
He said he didn’t see Rosenbaum until he “came out from behind a car and ambushed me.”
Watch some of the Rittenhouse testimony below:
Rittenhouse said he also asked people if they needed medical help on his way to lot number three. He said someone taunted him on the way down there by yelling “burn in hell.”
Rittenhouse’s mother appeared to tear up in court during her son’s testimony.
“I look over my shoulder, and Mr. Rosenbaum — Mr. Rosenbaum was now running from my right side, um, and, I was cornered from in front of me with Mr. [Joshua] Ziminski — and there were — there were — people right there.”
Rittenhouse started to convulse and sob on the witness stand. His attorney struggled to get him to focus; Judge Bruce Schroeder called a break in the proceeding.
After the break, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum threw a bag at him which he believed may have been the chain Rosenbaum was carrying earlier. He said it was hard to see things due to the chaos in the darkness. He said a gunshot rang out directly behind him as Rosenbaum was “gaining speed” on him.
“I take a few steps, and that’s when I turn around, and as I’m turning around, Mr. Rosenbaum is — I would say — from me to where the judge is — coming at me with his arms out in front of him. I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun,” Rittenhouse said.
His attorney asked why he didn’t keep running.
“There was no space for me to continue to run to,” Rittenhouse said while referencing a series of cars blocking his path in the parking lot where he pulled the trigger.
“As you see him lunging at you, what do you do?” defense attorney Mark Richards asked in a leading question that did not result in an objection from the prosecution.
“I shoot him,” Rittenhouse said.
The defendant said he believed he fired four times. The crowd scattered. Rittenhouse said he turned around to see if he could help Rosenbaum. He said Richard McGinnis, a Daily Caller video editor who was on the scene, approached and slammed his helmet on the ground.
Rittenhouse said he called Black to report that he had shot someone.
“Get his ass! Get his ass! Get him! Get him! Get him!” Rittenhouse said the crowd started yelling. He said he now knows those individuals to be Joshua and Kelly Ziminski.
He said he attempted to go down Sheridan Road to turn himself in to law enforcement.
He said he stopped to talk to Jason Lackowski while a “mob” was yelling that he should be killed.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Rittenhouse said. “I defended myself.”
He said he primarily wanted to reach the police because they would provide safety from the mob.
“The next thing I remember is Anthony Huber striking me on the head with a skateboard,” the defendant testified.
He said he did not immediately shoot Gaige Grosskreutz on a first encounter because Grosskreutz at that time “as a threat to my safety or life.” He said Grosskreutz was not armed at that time.
Rittenhouse then detailed how Huber attacked.
“What I remember is running past Anthony Huber, and as I’m running past Mr. Huber, he’s holding a skateboard like a baseball bat, and he swings it down, and I block it with my arm, trying to prevent it from hitting me, but it still hits me in the neck, and as I block it, it goes flying somewhere off in the distance,” Rittenhouse testified. “I keep running down Sheridan Road to the police line.”
Rittenhouse said he became light headed, stumbled, and hit the ground. He said he believed he had been struck twice, including by a rock which he said he took to the back of the head.
Rittenhouse said a crowd surrounded him. Some of the people who approached him stopped some distance from him. One person ran, jumped at him, and kicked him in the face. He fired.
“He would have stomped my face in if I didn’t fire,” Rittenhouse said. The person he fired upon was not struck.
Huber then ran up to Rittenhouse.
“He strikes me in the neck with his skateboard a second time,” Rittenhouse testified. “He grabs my gun, and I can feel it pulling away from me. I can feel the strap starting to come off my body. I fired one shot.”
Grosskreutz then aimed his own weapon at Rittenhouse, the defendant said. Rittenhouse said he did not re-rack or re-charge the chamber of his weapon. Grosskreutz testified that Rittenhouse did put another bullet into his gun’s chamber.
Rittenhouse said Grosskreutz aimed his pistol at him; he said he fired first.
Rittenhouse said he fired once and stopped because Grosskreutz was no longer a threat. He said he then attempted to turn himself in to the police. Rittenhouse said he attempted to say that he had shot someone; he said the officer yelled “get the fuck back or you’re going to get pepper sprayed; go home, go home, go home.” The defendant said he then returned to Car Source lot number two.
“I was just attacked; my head was spinning,” he said. Rittenhouse said the nearest police department he could think of was to go home to Antioch, Ill., to turn himself in. He said the Kenosha Police Department was barricaded and therefore not in a position to be of any assistance.
This is a developing story.
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