Kyle Rittenhouse pleads not guilty to all charges in Kenosha shooting

Plea comes as city prepares for potential unrest over decision whether to charge officer in shooting of Jacob Blake

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 05 January 2021 21:58
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Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson refuses to directly denounce Kyle Rittenhouse shortly after the shooting

Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teen charged with fatally shooting two and wounding a third during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Appearing in court with his lawyer by video conference for the hearing, the teen, who is now 18 years old, is free on $2m cash bond.

Mr Rittenhouse, who was 17 when he brought a rifle to a protest in Kenosha and killed two protesters and wounded a third in what he claims was self-defence, was expected to plead not guilty which his lawyers had confirmed to Reuters.

He was released on bond in November after conservatives rallying to his cause helped raise the bail money. He was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and five other criminal charges.

The hearing comes as the city of Kenosha prepares for potential further unrest over an imminent decision whether to charge the police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times – the incident that sparked the protests in the summer. Mr Blake was left paralysed.

Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley is expected to announce whether or not the officer involved, Rusten Sheskey, will be charged with a crime.

The state has activated the National Guard and the city has begun boarding up the courthouse in anticipation of protests following the announcement.

The family of one of the slain protesters, as well as the man wounded in the incident, have sued the city, seeking $20m in damages.

They claim the city's police department was negligent in allowing Mr Rittenhouse to wander the streets with his rifle during the protest, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Multiple videos from the protest captured the shooting. Mr Rittenhouse is seen arguing with protesters and leveling his rifle at them. Joseph Rosenbaum, a protester, appears to chase Mr Rittenhouse and toss a bag at him.

According to Kenosha County Prosecutors, Mr Rosenbaum attempted to take the rifle from Mr Rittenhouse, who then shot Mr Rosenbaum four times, killing him.

Another video shows Mr Rittenhouse being chased down the street by protesters after he shot and killed Mr Rosenbaum. Mr Rittenhouse is struck twice by protesters. He tried to shoot one, but missed, and shot at another – Anthony Huber – who was trying to grab his rifle. He allegedly shot Mr Huber through the chest, killing him.

Mr Rittenhouse is accused of then shooting another protester who was holding a handgun through the bicep. That man survived.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for 9am on 10 March.

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