A juror in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial was fired Thursday after making an inappropriate joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake Jr., an incident sparking days of unrest in small town Wisconsin where Rittenhouse faces jail in life for killing two people and injuring a third.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said a sheriff’s deputy reported the incident earlier this week, and prosecutor Thomas Binger argued the joke showed racial bias.
Blake, who is black, was shot seven times in the back by a white policeman at point blank range in front of his children, and he remains partially paralyzed.
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The incident was caught on camera, went viral, and brought hundreds of people to Kenosha to protest the police brutality. The protests began peacefully but quickly led to violent clashes resulting in two deaths, several injuries and $ 50 million in damages.
The juror who made the joke out of color refused to repeat it when Schroeder called him into the courtroom.
âI’m going to sum up what I remember, what I was told,â Schroeder said. “He made reference to telling a joke about ‘Why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake?’ Something along those lines. “
Schroeder ruled it was “clear that the appearance of bias is present and that this would seriously undermine the outcome of the case,” dismissing the juror who has been described as a middle-aged white man on a motorized scooter . Rittenhouse is on trial for shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. He also shot and injured 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz.
Rittenhouse, 18, faces multiple charges, including two counts of first degree homicide, attempted homicide, reckless endangerment and curfew violation. He pleaded not guilty. If convicted of first degree homicide, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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His case has become a political and social lightning rod, pitting armed citizens against protesters who demanded accountability following a wave of police fire across the country.
Twenty jurors were seated for Rittenhouse’s trial this week, although the number now stands at 19 and includes 11 women and eight men. Of these, 12 will decide on a verdict.
Rittenhouse claims that he and his friend Dominick Black went to Kenosha to protect a car dealership from vandals. He said he shot Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz in self-defense.
Prosecutors say Rittenhouse is a trigger-happy tourist who has willingly stepped into the chaos.
Daily call Journalist Richard McGinnis, who recorded footage of the Kenosha riots and was one of the first people to provide first aid to Rosenbaum, spoke on Thursday. He testified that he was 15 feet behind Rosenbaum when gunshots rang out and he initially thought he might have been hit himself.
McGinnis, the Conservative Media’s chief video director, said he covered protests in Portland, Washington, DC and New York, where he documented the violence. He also said he regularly offered cigarettes and cans of White Claw hard seltzer water during protests to gain their trust and help ease escalating tensions.
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Kenosha Police Detective Martin Howard was also called to the stand. Martin testified that Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse before being shot several times.
Prosecutors on Wednesday presented new FBI infrared aerial surveillance video that showed Rosenbaum’s final moments of life.
The grainy images, taken 8,500 feet above, show Rittenhouse running along a sidewalk and initially passing Rosenbaum. The video then shows an altercation between the two. Rosenbaum is seen running towards Rittenhouse, who is armed with a rifle. Rittenhouse begins to run away but stops, turns around, and fires his gun fatally at Rosenbaum four times.
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The video is among a dozen prosecutors played in court who tried to piece together what happened before, during and after the murderous incident.
The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.