The case against Kyle Rittenhouse collapsed almost before it began.
Rittenhouse killed two men and wounded a third while protecting businesses during riots in Kenosha, Wis. He argues self defense.
The performance of Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger was especially pathetic.
The prosecutor sought to diminish some of the actions committed by Joseph Rosenbaum before his encounter with Rittenhouse, sarcastically intoning — “He tipped over a Porta-Potty, that had no one in it. He swung a chain. He lit a metal garbage dumpster on fire. Oh, and there’s this empty wooden flatbed trailer that they pulled out in the middle of the road and they tipped it over to stop some BearCats, and they lit it on fire. Oh, and he said some bad words. He said the n-word. Tsk tsk Tsk,” as he mockingly wagged his finger. This couldn’t have played well to the jury.
And in a trial whereby the defendant is being accused of reckless actions, Binger committed his own while attempting to act out Rittenhouse’s actions with his rifle. With the recent accidental shooting on a movie set in New Mexico still fresh on our minds, Binger sweeps the courtroom spectator section with the weapon and incredulously breaks firearms handling safety rule number one — never place your finger on the trigger unless and until you have acquired a target you may have to neutralize. Yet another example of those prosecuting gun crimes with little understanding of guns.
Rittenhouse’s attorney, Mark Richards, rightly said the case “explodes in [Binger’s] face.”
When prosecutors reflexively file impossible-to-prove charges in order to satisfy a mob, they almost always get manhandled in court. The top charge here is first-degree intentional homicide, an overcharging not backed up by the facts. Witnesses and testimony have revealed that Rittenhouse only shot the three men after they were charging him, hitting with a skateboard or pointing a gun at him.
Kenosha County Judge Bruce E. Schroeder gave one win for the state, when he allowed the jury to consider lesser charges. It has obviously dawned on the prosecutors that their case isn’t solid.
Rittenhouse may be vindicated in court, but someone who hasn’t faced up to his actions is our president. In September of 2020, Joe Biden inferred that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist. If he’s acquitted, will President Biden issue an apology or double down and cave to political pressure by leaning on the Justice Department to bring civil rights charges — for three white men? Unfortunately, the latter seems more likely.
James A. Gagliano is a retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent and doctoral candidate in Homeland Security at St. John’s University.