Anyone casually following news reports this week on the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse could be forgiven for being under the impression that prosecutors have a pretty solid case, especially after Monday’s testimony from the state’s witness Gaige Grosskreutz.
That impression would be wrong. But it would be the natural result of the national media collectively pumping out a string of headlines intending to clean up Grosskreutz’s shockingly poor performance on the stand, so far as it relates to proving that Rittenhouse was ever dead-set on killing anyone rather than shooting his attackers in self-defense.
New York Times: “Man Shot by Kyle Rittenhouse Describes the Encounter on a Kenosha Street”
Washington Post: “Gaige Grosskreutz says he feared for his life, pointed gun at Kyle Rittenhouse before getting shot”
CNN: “Armed paramedic who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse testifies he thought teen was an active shooter”
USA Today: “Gaige Grosskreutz testified ‘That I was going to die’ as a witness at Rittenhouse trial”
BBC: “Man shot by Kyle Rittenhouse says he pointed own gun amid fears for life.”
This would be like if after Hurricane Katrina the headlines read, “Rain, wind shake New Orleans,” or, “Heavy downpour an inconvenience for many.” Those descriptions aren’t outright lies, but they don’t capture what exactly happened.
Likewise, Grosskreutz’s testimony was a complete disaster by any measure. Regardless of where your sympathies lie with regard to whether Rittenhouse was justified in shooting anyone, Grosskreutz was not the kind of witness you want on your side.
Media coverage of his testimony treated Grosskreutz as if he were a normal witness with a simple story. He wasn’t. At all.
Grosskreutz, 27, is one of the three men Rittenhouse shot with an AR-15 on that night of race rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer. The only thing that significantly separates him from the other two men is that the gunshot did not kill him. Otherwise, all three are either seen on video or described by witness testimony to have been pursuing Rittenhouse and attempting to grab his gun.
It’s true that Grosskreutz was shot by Rittenhouse, that he said he thought in the moment that Rittenhouse was an active shooter, and that he said he believed he “was going to die.”
Here are some things that are also true:
First, Grosskreutz was holding a Glock 27 in his right hand when he engaged Rittenhouse, who had just fallen to the ground, a fact he does not dispute.
Second, Grosskreutz initially told police last year, “Some time during the incident, my gen four Glock 27 that had a belt clip attached fell off my waist.” He admitted under oath that this was untrue.
Third, Grosskreutz testified that Rittenhouse aimed his weapon at him but did not shoot because Grosskreutz’s hands were up as if to surrender. It was only when Grosskreutz then blitzed forward and reached for Rittenhouse’s gun that the then-17-year-old shot him in the arm.
Fourth, Grosskreutz further testified that he and Rittenhouse were at first moving in opposite directions, but that when he saw a crowd of people chasing after Rittenhouse and yelling that he had just shot someone (since identified as Joseph Rosenbaum), Grosskreutz doubled back and also began moving toward Rittenhouse.
Fifth, in a most embarrassing moment for the state’s case, lead prosecutor Thomas Binger had to rescue Grosskreutz from perjuring himself for having testified falsely as to the time that he drew his handgun. “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,” Binger told him. “Um… So do you remember specifically — were you intending when you pulled your gun out, were you intending to use it?”
An honest summary of Grosskreutz’s testimony would, at best, be something like: “Key witness in Rittenhouse murder trial creates pitfalls for prosecutors.”
The whole display was, at minimum, a mess for the state. Their own witness delivered them a devastating setback. They’re supposed to be making the case that Rittenhouse murdered people, while their own witness is on record lying about what happened and even denying things that were captured on video.
But of course, the national media don’t want to admit it. That would be to admit that Rittenhouse was the one who was fearing for his life. And to do that would disrupt their preferred narrative that the race riots last year were justified.