Judge rules defense may deploy USE-OF-FORCE EXPERT in trial of Kyle Rittenhouse

A Wisconsin judge laid out the final ground rules Monday in regards to what evidence will be allowed when Kyle Rittenhouse goes on trial next week for shooting three people during a Black Lives Matter demonstration. The judge has ruled that he’ll permit testimony from the defense’s use-of-force expert and on how police welcomed Rittenhouse and others carrying guns during the demonstration.

The hearing was likely the last before Rittenhouse goes on trial Nov. 1 for the shootings during demonstrations in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, was among a number of people who responded to calls on social media to take up arms and come to Kenosha to respond to the protests. Rittenhouse is charged with homicide and other crimes in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys want use-of-force expert John Black to testify that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. Prosecutors have asked Judge Bruce Schroeder to block Black’s testimony, arguing that jurors don’t need an expert to understand what happened that night. Schroeder told the attorneys that Black wouldn’t be allowed to testify about what Rittenhouse was thinking when he pulled the trigger or whether he definitively acted in self-defense.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said if Schroeder allowed Black to testify only about the timeline of events that night, he wouldn’t call his own expert to the stand. Defense attorney Mark Richards agreed to the deal. Binger asked Schroeder to bar a video that shows police telling Rittenhouse and other armed militia members on the streets that they appreciated their presence and tossing Rittenhouse a bottle of water.

The prosecutor said the video would transform the trial into a referendum on police procedure that night when it isn’t relevant. “This is a case about what the defendant did that night,” Binger said. “I’m concerned this will be turned into a trial about what law enforcement did or didn’t do that night.”

Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi argued the video shows that police felt Rittenhouse wasn’t acting recklessly. Binger countered that the shootings happened after Rittenhouse interacted with the police, but Schroeder decided to allow the video. “If the jury is being told, if the defendant is walking down the sidewalk and doing what he claims he was hired to do and police say good thing you’re here, is that something influencing the defendant and emboldening him in his behavior? That would be an argument for relevance,” the judge said.

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