KENOSHA — During day 5 of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, a protester and volunteer medic wounded on the streets of Kenosha by Rittenhouse says he was unintentionally pointing his own gun at the rifle-toting Rittenhouse when the young man shot him in the arm.
Gaige Grosskreutz, the third and final man shot by Rittenhouse during a night of turbulent racial-justice protests in the summer of 2020, took the stand at Rittenhouse’s murder trial Monday. He recounted under cross examination how he drew his own pistol and pointed it at Rittenhouse just before he was shot. Rittenhouse contends he was acting in self defense. He faces life in prison on the most serious charge.
Grosskreutz began his testimony by detailing the training he'd completed to serve as an EMT and paramedic and told the court he'd been at many demonstrations during the summer of 2020, serving as a medic.
In Kenosha, on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 Grosskreutz was streaming live on Facebook. He testified that he heard gunshots, then saw people running and yelling for a medic. He told the court he ran toward the noise — and that's when he came across Kyle Rittenhouse.
Grosskreutz, who was armed and behind the camera, can be heard asking Rittenhouse, "Hey, what are you doing? You shot somebody? Who is shot? Who is shot?"
Grosskreutz testified that he chose to continue heading the same direction as Rittenhouse because he thought there was a potential for someone to be injured and his medic skills would be needed.
The court continued to watch clips of the live-stream video which, a short time later, showed Rittenhouse shoot Anthony Huber, and then turn the AR-15 on Grosskreutz, who can be seen holding his hands up. Seconds later, he is shot. Grosskreutz testified that he thought he was going to die and believed the best way to avoid death was to try and wrestle the weapon away from Rittenhouse.
"In that moment I felt that I had to do something to try and stop myself from being killed. So I decided that the best course of action would be to close the distance," said Grosskreutz as he narrated his actions for the court. Grosskreutz testified that he had his pistol in one hand and his cellphone in the other. "I do know though I was never trying to kill the defendant, it was never something that I was trying to do, in that moment I was trying to preserve my own life."
The prosecution asked Grosskreutz why he didn't use his own gun, to shoot first. Grosskreutz told the court, "That's not who I am" and said up until that point, he'd spent his time, money, and education providing care for people.
During the initial phase of cross-examination, the defense asked whether or not Grosskreutz felt Rittenhouse was in danger of being hurt, prior to the shooting. The defense also displayed a picture of Rittenhouse and Grosskreutz as the shooting happened. Grosskreutz agreed that the photo, which depicts his bicep exploding from the impact of being shot, showed the pistol Grosskreutz was holding was pointed toward Rittenhouse.
Grosskreutz was shot in the right arm and said as a result, he lost a large part of his bicep. Rittenhouse appeared stoic as graphic photos and videos of Grosskreutz's injuries were shown to the court.
With Grosskreutz on the stand, the prosecution is close to wrapping up its case. Jurors have already heard testimony from people who were with Kyle Rittenhouse on the night of the shootings and from law enforcement officers and loved ones of the men who died.
Grosskreutz testified he was in Kenosha that night serving as a medic.
Prosecutors showed video they say Grosskreutz was filming that night. In it prosecutors say you can hear Grosskreutz talking to Rittenhouse in the moments after Joseph Rosenbaum was shot.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Grosskreutz says in the video. "You shot somebody? Who's shot?"
Grosskreutz testified he tried to find Rosenbaum to help him, but then he said he turned around.
"I started hearing people say, he just shot that guy, he just shot somebody," Grosskreutz testified.
He said at some point he grabbed his gun, and came within feet of Rittenhouse, but testified he was never trying to kill him.
"Why didn't you take your own gun and shoot the defendant first?" Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger asked.
"Like I said, that's not the kind of person that I am," Grosskreutz testified.
Defense attorneys pressed Grosskreutz on his statements to police about his gun—why he first told them his gun fell out of his waistband, and where he pointed his gun and when.
"When you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?" Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi asked.
"Correct," Grosskreutz responded.
"It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him, with your gun, now your hands down, pointed at him, that he fired, right?" Chirafisi asked.
"Correct," Grosskreutz said.
Grosskreutz was shot in the right arm. He testified he lost part of his bicep and feeling in part of his arm down to his fingers.
Day 4 of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial
Day four of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial opened with the dismissal of another juror. Judge Bruce Schroeder said a pregnant juror was having some discomfort and she asked to be dismissed. The judge granted that request. 18 jurors, 10 women and 8 men, remain.
Wisconsin veteran Jason Lackowski was first to take the stand Friday morning. He told the court that he was in Kenosha to help protect businesses, specifically Car Source lots, and that his plan was to "shout, shove, show (as in display a weapon) and shoot."
He testified that while guarding the properties he never had to do anything beyond shout. Lackowski also testified that he came across Joseph Rosenbaum, a man who was shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse.
"What did you think of him?" asked Thomas Binger, the Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney. "A babbling idiot," responded Lackowski. "Did you consider him (Rosenbaum) a threat?" continued Binger. Lackowski responded that he did not. "Did you feel that he posed any danger to you or anyone else?" asked Binger. "No," said Lackowski.
Lackowski told the court that later he heard gunshots and followed the sound. While on the move, Lackowski told the court he came across Kyle Rittenhouse, who Lackoswki described as frazzled and shocked. Lackowski also testified that they spoke, but needed to look at a transcript of an interview he'd given to the FBI, before he was able to recall the conversation in court.
"When the defendant spoke to you he said he didn't shoot anyone?" asked Binger. "Correct," responded Lackowski. "But he said he needed help?" continued Binger. "Yes," was the response from Lackowski. "What did you tell him?" asked Binger. "I told him to run to the police," said Lackowski.
During cross-examination, the defense pressed Lackowski about his recollection of that conversation. Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorney Corey Chirafisi posed this question to the court, "The statement that makes more sense is -- I did shoot somebody and I need help, right? Why would he need help if he didn't shoot someone, right?"
Chirafisi asked Lackowski, "How certain are you that in fact, he didn't say, I did shoot someone and I need help verses I didn't shoot someone but I need help?"
"I don't honestly recall," responded Lackowski.
Lackowski testified that he followed Rittenhouse until he heard gunshots behind him and then, "blacked out."
"I remember being on the sidewalk and then there was an individual on the ground screaming," recalled Lackowski. "I had walked up to them with a group of individuals. Someone was screaming for a tourniquet, I believe." The person on the ground was Gaige Grosskreutz. Lackowski says he applied the tourniquet and stayed with Grosskreutz until police showed up.
The prosecution also called Amber Rasmussen to the stand. She analyzes DNA for the state crime lab. Rasmussen testified that she analyzed DNA profiles from swabs taken from parts of a firearm — swabs of trigger, barrel guard pistol grip and magazine. She told the court she found strong support for Rittenhouse's DNA on each. She also said the profiles of Huber and Rosenbaum are either excluded or the lab wouldn't make a ruling on it because there wasn't enough of a DNA sample present.
During cross-examination, the defense pointed out that Rasmussen was sent swabs, not the actual weapon. She testified that whether or not there is DNA to test — doesn't mean someone couldn't have touched the gun.
Before breaking for lunch, Susan Hughes, Anthony Huber’s great aunt, took the stand.
Hughes testified how Huber loved to skateboard, and that he had just turned 26 a few days before the shooting.
Next, the state called Rosenbaum's fiance, Kariann Swart, to the witness stand. She testified Rosenbaum had just come home from a hospital in Milwaukee the afternoon of Aug. 25, 2020, and she said he was taking antidepressants and medication for bipolar disorder.
Swart testified she got a call from the medical examiner around 4 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2020, and she said she saw video of the shooting on Facebook.
"I broke down," Swart said. "I can't get that image out of my head."
Prosecutors called brothers Sahil and Sam Khindri to the witness stand. They say their father owns the Car Source businesses in Kenosha.
As attorneys pressed them, the brothers both testified they did not ask anyone to defend their properties that night. One testified he did not know it was going on until after the shootings.
The state called several Kenosha Police officers to the stand. One was on patrol the night of the shootings. He testified many people were armed that night. When he and his partner passed Rittenhouse after the shootings, he did not know Rittenhouse was the shooter. Instead, he said his partner pepper sprayed him.
Day 3 of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial
During proceedings on Thursday, a witness at Rittenhouse's murder trial says the first man shot on the streets of Kenosha seemed to “lunge” toward Rittenhouse’s gun just before Rittenhouse fired. Jamie McGinniss is a video director for the conservative website The Daily Caller, who followed as protester Joseph Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse.
He said Rosenbaum was lunging toward Rittenhouse and his momentum was moving forward when he was shot. The lead prosecutor kept pressing McGinniss about whether Rosenbaum was actually falling when he was shot, as McGinniss said in a media interview days after the shooting.
The judge did dismiss one juror for saying a joke about Jacob Blake, the man shot and injured by a Kenosha police officer last summer. The shooting sparked the protests during which Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and injured a third person.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said he understands the juror said, “why did Kenosha Police shoot Jacob Blake 7 times? They ran out of bullets.”
Binger says this shows racial bias. There are now 19 jurors.
"The public needs to be confident this is a fair trial," Judge Schroeder says. He says the joke was "at the very least, bad judgment."
Also on Thursday, a detective says that someone in the crowd fired a shot into the air just 2 1/2 seconds before Rittenhouse began shooting on the streets of Kenosha. The defense has said that shot made Rittenhouse think he was under attack.
At the time, Rittenhouse was being chased by Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man he shot and killed. Video took center stage again Thursday in the Illinois man’s trial in the shootings of three men — two fatally — after Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha in August 2020 with a medical kit and a rifle in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from damaging riots.
Day 2 of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial
On Wednesday, jurors heard from a witness who recorded and streamed video from the scene the night of the shootings. Much of the evidence in this trial is going to center around video.
As he did on Tuesday, prosecution witness Koerri Washington took jurors to the scene of the shootings on Aug. 25, 2020 by narrating and answering questions about the live video stream he recorded that night.
Kenosha County Assistant D.A. Thomas Binger took the court through specific moments in the video — pointing out Kyle Rittenhouse, Joseph Rosenbaum, and some others. Washington's live stream captured the sound of a first shot that went into the air. It was fired by a man named Joshua Ziminski who was there that night. The video also captures the sound of the shooting of Rosenbaum.
During cross-examination, Washington testified that he noticed Rittenhouse that night because of his young age and the fact that he was wearing gloves and smoking cigarettes. "Not saying that I felt like oh, this is a guy that's going go around and mow a bunch of people down or anything like that," said Washington. "I was just like -- oh, that's interesting. Let me take a note of that."
Rittenhouse, dressed in a suit in court, looked attentive as he took notes and spoke with his lawyers. It's still unclear if Rittenhouse will take the stand in his own defense, later in the trial.
Another on the stand Wednesday— Kenosha Police Detective Martin Howard—helped walk the jury through each of the moments prosecutors wanted to point out.
Detective Howard testified when he was assigned to investigate the shootings, he started searching the internet for any video that may have captured them.
Prosecutors showed videos to the jury which they say depicted the shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz.
The state also showed a video it says was filmed by Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinnis as he interviewed Rittenhouse before the shootings took place. In that video Rittenhouse tells McGinnis after he asks why Rittenhouse was out that night, "People are getting injured and our job is to protect this business..."
A reporter in the courtroom told TMJ4 News the jury seemed "riveted" watching the videos and kept "their eyes glued" to the screens.
The jury saw another video prosecutors say McGinnis filmed which shows Rittenhouse shouting, "Anyone need medical?"
The defense team objected to the audio of one of the videos in which the person filming refers to people he sees as "militia." The defense said that was editorializing.
Judge Bruce Schroeder sent the jury out of the room as attorneys debated the objection. The judge seemed to agree with the defense, and he eventually allowed the state to show parts of that video. Judge Schroeder pointed out the pressure of this trial and how critical weighing each piece of evidence is.
"So anything that undermines public confidence in what happens here is very important," Judge Schroeder said. "It's important for this town, it's important for this country to have people have confidence in the result of this trial."
Day 1 of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial
In Day 1 of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the defense and prosecution delivered opening statements and the sides heard from their first witnesses.
Before the jury entered the courtroom Tuesday morning, the defense team asked Judge Bruce Schroeder for an update on a motion to drop the gun charge against Kyle Rittenhouse, claiming there is a loophole for 17 year olds. Judge Schroeder said he ultimately wasn't ready to rule on that yet and after a few more procedural legal discussions, the jury was sworn in and received instructions from the judge.
"You are to decide this case solely on the evidence offered and received at this trial," he told the 20 jurors inside the courtroom.
The state presented an opening statement first, acknowledging that hundreds of people experienced or took part in the protests and unrest in Kenosha but Rittenhouse, they say, set himself apart with his actions.
"Out of the hundreds of people that come to Kenosha during that week, the hundreds of people that were out on the streets that week, the evidence will show that the only person who killed anyone was the defendant — Kyle Rittenhouse," said the Kenosha County Asst. District Attorney, Thomas Binger, while he pointed across the courtroom toward Rittenhouse.
The defense began to prepare to begin its own opening statement, but the state objected to a plan by Rittenhouse's legal team to show the court dozens of photos and videos. The state told the judge it was unusual, it would take too long, and that an opening statement should be a summary of the evidence, not the evidence itself. But Judge Schroeder allowed it, saying the photos and videos appear to be relevant and authentic.
"We have two very different outlooks on the events of August 25, 2020," began Mark Richards, Kyle Rittenhouse's lead attorney.
Richards also indicated that Rittenhouse himself may testify, as he told the court, "You'll hear testimony, not just from Mr. Rittenhouse..."
The state called its first witness to the stand, Dominick Black, Tuesday afternoon. Black faces charges for buying the alleged gun in this case.
Black testified he and Rittenhouse agreed to help protect car lot businesses in downtown Kenosha on August 25, 2020. He testified he and Rittenhouse were separated at some point during the night, and he testified about when he first met back up with Rittenhouse after the shootings.
"He was freaking out, he was really scared, pale, sweating a lot," Black testified. "You could tell he was just scared."
"Did he say anything?" Binger asked.
"He wasn't really talking, he just said he had to do it, it was self-defense, people were trying to hurt him," Black said.
Black testified Rittenhouse took the gun from Black's stepfather's home without permission. During cross examination, defense attorneys asked why Black didn't stop Rittenhouse from brining his gun downtown that night.
"He walks out of the house with an AR-15, and you don't say boo, correct?" defense attorney Mark Richards said.
"I didn't say anything, correct," Black replied.
"If you wanted to object, you could have said something to Kyle," Richards said.
"Yes, I could have," Black responded.
Prosecutors called two more witnesses to the stand after Black, including an FBI agent and a social media influencer who lives in Kenosha.
During opening statements Defense attorneys alluded to the fact that Kyle Rittenhouse himself may take the witness stand during the trial which is expected to last 2 weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.