Rittenhouse is charged with five counts of felony criminal mischief, one count of countless murders, one count of countless murders, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of felony criminal mischief. He is also charged with misdemeanor possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18 and a non-criminal offense of non-compliance with an emergency order. He has pleaded not guilty.
After a day of unrest in Kenosha, Rittenhouse traveled to the city from his home in Antioch, Illinois. On the night of Aug. 25, with an AR-15-like rifle and a medical kit, he collided with people gathered near a car dealership and shot Rosenbaum dead, according to a criminal complaint.
Others at the scene persecuted Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, who then shot Huber deadly and wounded Grosskreutz, the complaint said.
Prosecutors say Rittenhouse’s actions constituted criminal killings, but his lawyers say he shot the men in self-defense. Wisconsin law requires that when a self-defense claim is raised, prosecutors must disprove self-defense beyond any reasonable doubt – a difficult obstacle.
“It’s a pretty significant burden on the prosecution to do that, and I think that’s where the real challenge for them lies,” said John Gross, a clinical associate professor and director of the Public Defender Project at the University of Wisconsin. Madison Law School.
The jury is given the crucial task of assessing whether Rittenhouse’s actions were reasonable and constituted self-defense.
“We want the jury to be a control of state power and enforce societal norms,” said Cecelia Klingele, an associate professor of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “So when the law requires that power be used reasonably, we want our society to decide what is or is not fair.”
How the night of August 25 went
Some people – including a number who did not live in Kenosha – took the issue of security into their own hands. Rittenhouse was among them.
Wearing a green T-shirt and a rear-facing baseball cap, the armed Rittenhouse walked the city streets on the night of August 25 with a group of armed men, showing videos and photos from the protests. Hours after the curfew, Rittenhouse walked down the streets near a car dealership, holding what investigators later determined to be “a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle,” the criminal complaint against him states.
The complaint states that Rittenhouse collided with people gathered near the car dealership for unspecified reasons.
Rosenbaum was unarmed and threw an object that appeared to be a plastic bag at him, missing according to the complaint. Rosenbaum and Rittenhouse were moving across the parking lot and appeared to be nearby when loud bangs suddenly sounded and Rosenbaum fell to the ground, according to the complaint.
When Rosenbaum was lying on the ground, Rittenhouse made a call on his cell phone and said, “I just killed someone,” as he ran away, the complaint claims. A journalist who followed the suspect and the victim at the time gave investigators more details about what happened. He told investigators that the man who was shot was trying to grab the suspect’s gun, according to the complaint.
Another video shows the suspect running from the scene followed by people in pursuit.
“A person can be heard shouting what sounds like, ‘Beat him up!’ Another person can be heard shouting what sounds like, ‘Hey, he shot him!’, “Reads the criminal indictment. In another video, someone shouts, “Get him! Get that guy!”
Rittenhouse stumbled and fell as people chased him down, and as he lay on the ground, a person identified as Huber approached him with a skateboard in his right hand, the complaint reads. Huber appeared to reach Rittenhouse’s gun with one hand when the skateboard hit the teenager in the shoulder, the complaint states, and Rittenhouse then shot Huber.
Rittenhouse then aimed his gun at a third man, later identified as Grosskreutz, who was holding a gun, the complaint said. He was shot in the right arm and took off in the opposite direction, screaming for a doctor while the accused walked away, the complaint reads.
Rittenhouse left the shooting scene still armed and walked towards the officers with his hands up, but police walked past him without arresting him, video shows. Eventually, he went home and reported to his local police department the next morning.
CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Brad Parks and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.