If you follow the prosecution’s case against Kyle Rittenhouse, the only logical end is the assertion that self-defense is almost never an option and visiting the scene of a riot is only okay if you are there to burn property.
There are other facets to lead prosecutor Thomas Binger’s arguments — that Rittenhouse, 18, was in illegal possession of a gun, that he showed up in Kenosha, Wis., that night of violent rioting because he was pursuing danger, and that he could have easily done things differently. But the bulk of Binger’s questioning of Rittenhouse on Wednesday relied on the assumption that unless a person has physically touched you, and if you were at the scene for reasons not in line with others present, there is no reason to protect yourself with force that may prove deadly.
Rittenhouse faces charges for the murders of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, as well as the intentional homicide of Gaige Grosskreutz. It’s not disputed, and it’s on video, that Rittenhouse shot all three, and only Grosskreutz survived.
It’s also on video and backed up by eyewitness testimony that each of the three men was running after Rittenhouse and making attempts to take his gun. Grosskreutz, who was armed at the time, himself said he tried grabbing Rittenhouse’s AR-15.
Binger played the videos, which the jury has seen multiple times already, and acknowledged in questioning that Rittenhouse was being chased that night in August 2020. But his emphasis has been that: 1) Rosenbaum, the shooting of whom set off the whole episode, never physically touched Rittenhouse and 2) that Rittenhouse’s presence, by its very nature, was needlessly provocative.
The absurdity was captured in one specific exchange between Binger and Rittenhouse.
Binger: “So, you saw someone who was trying to put out a fire, who got assaulted?”
Binger: “But, if you’re going to help people, why would you expect anyone would try and hurt you?”
Rittenhouse: “I don’t know. Somebody did try to hurt me and I was helping people.”
Binger has apparently never prepared for an unexpected disaster. He may not even buckle his seatbelt, I can’t be sure.
Rittenhouse testified that he was in Kenosha that night at the request of a car lot owner who had been looking for men to protect his business, which had previously suffered damage from nights of rioting. He said he brought his AR-15 and a medic kit for the purpose of patrolling the area and offering care to anyone injured.
He said that beforehand he had seen destruction done to the city, where his father lives and where Rittenhouse had been working as a lifeguard. That’s why he brought the gun — in the event that he needed it for his own protection. There had been, after all, reports of physical assaults against police and a business owner in addition to the property damage.
But Binger adopted a tone to suggest he was utterly confounded as to why anyone would show up in Kenosha to offer aid while armed with a gun.
Binger: “I asked you why you brought the gun. You said you needed it for protection. I said, ‘Protection against what?’ You said that you didn’t think you needed protection. I’m confused. Can you help me understand why you’re telling us you needed a gun for protection but you didn’t think you needed protection?
Rittenhouse, who is apparently lightyears ahead of Binger in IQ: “I brought the gun for my protection but what I was saying is I didn’t think I would have to use the gun and end up defending myself.”
Binger is presumably also confused by people who purchase home insurance. Why do they need that unless they plan on setting their own homes on fire?!
The prosecutor was equally stupid in making the case that Rittenhouse was at fault for being in a place he had the right to be, but shouldn’t have been.
At one point, Binger asked, “You know that you’re running into a crowd that is not friendly to you, right?” and also, “Were you surprised a crowd would react that way when they just saw you shoot someone?”
The implication is that Rittenhouse, having shot someone who was chasing him, should have known that all of this was coming because he made the choice to show up at a riot.
He did make that choice, but so did everyone else who showed up to loot, vandalize, and torch private and public property. Rittenhouse’s reason for showing up — to limit the damage — just happened to be unpopular. That doesn’t make him a criminal. It makes him a dissident.
When you reach the logical conclusion of the prosecution’s case, that’s Rittenhouse’s crime. He was in a dangerous place where the rioters — otherwise known by Binger as “the good guys” — didn’t want him, and therefore Rittenhouse was the instigator.
It’s preposterous. The jury probably knows that.