Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts by a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday, Nov. 19, bringing an end to a stressful trial that centered on the city’s fatal turmoil last summer.

According to Fox News, if proven guilty and convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, Rittenhouse, 18, would have faced a mandatory life term.

The verdict came on the fourth day of deliberations and the 15th day of the trial.

Rittenhouse was found not guilty on five counts, including first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, after a total of 26 hours of deliberation. Two other counts linked to his weapon had previously been rejected by Judge Bruce Schroeder.

The story began on Aug. 25, 2020, when Rittenhouse got embroiled in a melee near midnight amid Black Lives Matter riots in the small Midwestern city.

That night, Rittenhouse and a group of armed volunteers were guarding a car dealership set on fire the night before. 

After putting out a fire, Rittenhouse was pursued by rioter James Rosenbaum, who grabbed Rittenhouse’s AR-15-style gun. Rittenhouse fired four shots, one of which hit Rosenbaum and killed him. The rounds also came close to hitting Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinniss, who was documenting the protests. However, he was unharmed, Breitbart News reported.

As Rittenhouse attempted to flee toward police officers, a crowd gathered to give chase. An unknown assailant hit him in the head with a rock, and someone known as “Jump Kick Man” kicked him in the face, who Rittenhouse then shot at but missed. 

After a rioter called Anthony Huber attacked Rittenhouse with a skateboard in the head and neck, he lunged for the rifle; Rittenhouse fired one shot, killing him. Gaige Grosskreutz, another rioter with a gun, raised his hands over his head before charging Rittenhouse with his gun pointed at him. Grosskreutz was shot in the arm by Rittenhouse.

The defense claimed that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense because he was in fear of death or severe bodily damage.

Furthermore, the defense had requested a mistrial several times. The defense claimed that the prosecution had violated Rittenhouse’s Fifth Amendment rights by focusing on his post-arrest silence during the trial. The prosecutor also mentioned evidence that had been excluded from the trial by the court.

Judge Bruce Schroeder agreed, reprimanding the prosecutor but continuing the trial and promising to rule on the petition to dismiss later. After the trial, the defense filed another motion to dismiss as the jury deliberated, after the prosecution used a high-definition version of a video of events that the defense had never seen; the defense had only seen a lower-definition version of the same film.

The Kenosha County Courthouse was surrounded by local officers, the media, and demonstrators on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Friday called the verdict “an outrageous failure to protect protesters by the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office.”

“Despite Kyle Rittenhouse’s conscious decision to travel across state lines and injure one person and take the lives of two people protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, he was not held responsible for his actions. Unfortunately, this is not surprising,” the nonprofit tweet.

In a statement released Friday, Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer who defended George Floyd, labeled Rittenhouse “a racist, homicidal vigilante who, like so many white men before him, not only escaped accountability, but laughed in its face.”

“Today, I pray for the victims, I pray for our country, I pray for our children and grandchildren, and I pray that this travesty of a case is an outlier on our path to a more just system, and not a signal of retreat backwards,” he said. “Because, we simply can’t afford it.”

Politicians and celebrities were divided on the verdict, with Republicans and right-wing figures applauding the jury’s decision and Democrats and left-wing characters decrying what they called the judicial system’s failure.

President Biden on Friday said he “didn’t watch the trial” but stands by “what the jury has concluded.”

“The jury system works and we have to abide by it,” he said.

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