After four days of deliberation, the jury deciding the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse has found the 18-year-old not guilty on all counts.
Rittenhouse was facing five felony charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, for which he would have spent life in prison. He also faced first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Rittenhouse appeared to break down as jurors read their decision. When they concluded, he collapsed into his seat and embraced one of his attorneys.
Judge Bruce Schroeder praised jurors for their “attentiveness” throughout the 15-day trial.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better jury to work with,” he said. “Without commenting on the verdicts themselves, in terms of your attentiveness and cooperation… justified the confidence that the founders of our country placed on you.”
Double-jeopardy laws prohibit the state from prosecuting Rittenhouse again or appealing the decision, meaning Rittenhouse is free (or, as he might say, free AF). The judge dismissed the only remaining weapons charge before the jury began its deliberations.
It’s unclear at this point what the fallout from the decision will be. There have been reports of bricks being dumped around Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the trial took place, but violence has yet to break out.
During the Jacob Blake rallies, protestors marched (mostly) peacefully during the day, but rioters and looters burned the city at night.
While rioting has yet to begin, law enforcement has expressed concern. Kenosha County Sheriff’s deputies handed out free cookies to the crowd awaiting the verdict from a table with a sign reading “Cookies for Peace.”
Cold weather has kept crowd sizes small, but tensions are still running high.
A man with a sign reading “Black Crime Matters” is confronted over his use of the n-word this morning outside the courthouse.— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) November 18, 2021
“Why is it that depending on your race you can say the word n*****?” he argues.
“These people are deranged” he claims of the anti-Rittenhouse activists. pic.twitter.com/d3qaSozuby
Not everyone in the crowd is there to cause trouble. Mark and Patricia McCloskey made the trek from their home in St. Louis to support Rittenhouse.
“I think it’s a great day for America. It’s a great day for individual liberty. It’s a great day for the Second Amendment. We came out here to show support for Kyle Rittenhouse. This was a young man exercising remarkable composure under dire circumstances who defended himself and nothing more,” Mark McCloskey told Law & Crime Trial Network.
Rittenhouse won’t be tried again for these charges, but he may find himself in court before too long. Many have speculated that the 18-year-old would win defamation lawsuits against the media outlets who labeled him a murderer, vigilante, and white supremacist in the days and months after the incident.
Much like the Covington Catholic’s Nicholas Sandman settled with outlets like CNN and the Washington Post for millions of dollars, some say Rittenhouse could launch and win a similar case.
It’s what the tacticool crowd might call a “target-rich environment.”
SUPERCUT!— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) November 9, 2021
Media: Why do reporting when we already know Rittenhouse is a terrorist? pic.twitter.com/abebdPyiIs
Rittenhouse was charged with multiple counts of homicide after he shot one man and wounded a third during last year’s riots in Kenosha. Video evidence available at the time suggested that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense in all three instances. After listening to 11 days of testimony and deliberating for four days, the jury agreed.