Jurors in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse have now got to be wondering to themselves, “Um, why are we here again?”
Prosecutors on Monday called for the testimony from their most important witness. It turns out he may have cost them everything.
Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, is one of the three men Rittenhouse shot that night of race rioting last year in Kenosha, Wis. Unlike the other two, Grosskreutz survived.
The state apparently called Grosskreutz to the stand so he could tell the tale of his realized dreams of becoming a paramedic, how he had set out in Kenosha only to offer medical aid to innocent protesters who needed it, and that he ended up meeting a grisly and unfortuate fate after happening upon the firing end of a crazed vigilante’s AR-15.
It can’t be overstated just how disastrous his testimony ended up being. It didn’t even take cross-examination by the defense for Grosskreutz to reveal himself to be either a liar or a lunatic.
As the jury has seen multiple times on video already, on the night of the events on trial, Grosskreutz was running toward Rittenhouse, who was heading in the direction of police after having shot another man, Joseph Rosenbaum. After Rittenhouse was punched in the head by a rioter giving chase, he fell to the ground.
At that point, and in succession, one man jump-kicks Rittenhouse to the face (he is shot at, and possibly hit before running away); another hits Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard while trying to grab Rittenhouse’s gun (he is fatally shot); and finally, another man, Grosskreutz, makes his own attempt at grabbing Rittenhouse’s firearm, while Grosskreutz also carries a pistol.
Asked by lead prosecutor Thomas Binger, who is supposed to be portraying the witness in the utmost favorable light, about roughly when it was that Grosskreutz drew his gun, Grosskreutz said it wasn’t until he can be seen approaching Rittenhouse on the ground.
Binger: “Before this moment, had you drawn your firearm?”
Binger: “Where was it?”
Grosskreutz: “I keep my pistol holstered in the small of my back.”
Binger: “But don’t you have it in your hand at this point?”
Grosskreutz: “I can’t see from this video.”
After a little back and forth, Binger apparently realized there was a problem with his witness’s testimony.
Binger: “I want to back up for a second, Mr. Grosskreutz, because we have other video that shows you pulling your gun out before those shots [at Rittenhouse’s pursuers] are fired. Um… So, do you remember specifically— were you intending, when you pulled your gun out, were you intending to use it?”
Well, that’s awkward. But things were just getting started. The real show was during defense attorney Corey Chirafisi’s questioning. Only minutes into cross-examination, when Chirafisi was simply asking the witness to affirm basic facts from submitted evidence, Grosskreutz dialed up the crazy.
Reading from a statement Grosskreutz had previously given to law enforcement, Chirafisi said, “It says, ‘Some time during the incident, my gen-four Glock 27 that had a belt clip attached fell off my waist.’ That’s a lie, right?”
Grosskreutz: “I wouldn’t say that’s a lie.”
Defense: “You didn’t take your Glock out of your back and run with it?”
Grosskreutz: “I did.”
Defense: “So, it didn’t fall off your waist. It was in your hand.”
Grosskreutz: “That’s correct.”
Defense: “So, you would say that’s not a lie?”
Grosskreutz: “No, I would say it isn’t.”
Defense: “And you told that to multiple officers. Isn’t that true?”
Grosskreutz: “I don’t know.”
Defense: “The next sentence [of your statement to authorities]: ‘I told multiple officers that I dropped my firearm.’ Right?”
Defense: “You didn’t drop your firearm. You were chasing Mr. Rittenhouse with your gun, right? You were chasing him with your gun, yes?”
Defense: “You didn’t chase him down Sheridan Road, pulling your gun, chasing after him. That’s a lie? You’re saying that didn’t happen?
Grosskreutz: “I’m not saying that didn’t happen, but I wasn’t chasing the defendant.”
All of that conversation actually happened in court. Grosskreutz, the state’s witness, both denied what’s demonstrably seen on video and admitted to what’s demonstrably seen on video. And then after having admitted to it, he would deny it again. That happened several times throughout his testimony. The state’s co-counsel appeared in agony as it happened.
If I were a juror, how could I not be thinking to myself, “Why hasn’t this case been dismissed?” At least the attempted homicide charge as it relates to Grosskreutz, who went on to testify that Rittenhouse had aimed at him without firing a shot until Grosskreutz lunged at him with his own gun drawn.
Defense: “When you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?”
Defense: “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him, with your gun — now your hands down — pointed at him, that he fired at you, right?
There was a lot more to the testimony that should have been absolutely humiliating to the prosecutors, but you get the gist.
Grosskreutz was supposed to be the living account for why jurors should believe that Rittenhouse was senselessly shooting people, rather than acting in self-defense. Whatever Grosskreutz was, he wasn’t that.