Since the killing of George Floyd and a number of others at the hands of police officers around the country, we’ve been having a discussion on reforming our police and criminal justice system. For example, many have demanded an end to qualified immunity, which many, including myself, assert allows police officers to essentially get away with murder. many riots as well as peaceful protests have taken place across the country in response to the tragedies. The demands are for justice, and I think that is a fair a demand. But what about the law and our justice system? In this case what about those who who take “justice” and the law into their own hands?
So far, I’ve paid little mind and spoken little on the Kyle Rittenhouse case. I don’t know much about it or the case of Jacob Blake. Even so, I find them interesting clashing cases as once again, the media has managed to create a dichotomy and divide the country on these petty lines. Instead of talking about reforms, we’re focused on whether to make a hero or a villain of the two young men in question.
In truth, I know too little personally, having tried to avoid either the Kyle Rittenhouse case or the case of Jacob Blake to pace myself against the barrage of violence the media is parading before us. Even so, I’ve looked at the matter from a legal standpoint and wanted to discuss the case there.
Depending on who you ask, the Kyle Rittenhouse case may be a story of white supremacy and domestic terror, with little evidence to support those claims. It may also be the tragic tale of a young man who was just trying to help and was forced to act in self-defense. From a purely legal standpoint, who should we believe? These questions will mostly be sorted out in court by lawyers, judges, and the jury, but here’s what I’ve seen so far.
What Happened in The Kyle Rittenhouse Case
The facts seem to be blurry and change all the time, but the official story seems to be slowly coming together. We’ll probably never have the full picture of the Kyle Rittenhouse case or even a fraction of it until the truth comes out in court. Still, by piecing together the different versions of the truth, I think we begin to see a slightly clearer picture. Here’s what we seem to know:
We know that Rittenhouse had crossed state lines possessing a firearm, already violating standing laws, and being underage in Wisconsin, will probably face weapon charges.
He has been accused and charged with several serious crimes, including felonies like first Degree Murder and intentional homicide.
The defense alleges that these acts were committed in self-defense. They further allege had a right to carry based on a strict interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, a defense that other attorneys don’t believe will hold.
Mr. Rittenhouse allegedly participates in a “militia” known as the Kenosha Guard, but the details are choppy, and the evidence seems limited and circumstantial.
While “patrolling” most likely as a vigilante, Mr. Rittenhouse was chased down by three assailants, protest participants who may have believed him to be a gunman seeking to provoke violence or even fire on peaceful protests.
Assailants attempted to disarm Mr. Rittenhouse, and one allegedly assaulted him with a skateboard. After firing on one assailant, two others chased him down, shouting that he had shot someone.
Both assailants were fired upon in addition to a third who was injured.
Two of the men in question died, the others suffered serious wounds.
Was it Self-Defense?
There seem to be strong opinions on both sides about precisely what Mr. Rittenhouse’s intentions were in Kenosha and even more so in firing upon his three alleged attackers. Whether or not he was a “domestic terrorist” or simply a kid trying to a good deed and acting in self-defense remains to be seen. Even so, the law may provide some answers on whether Mr. Rittenhouse acted as an aggressor or in self-defense. Hopefully, these rulings will not be formed by political opinions, but by the nature of Wisconsin Law on self-defense, where the case will be tried upon delayed extradition. Was he acting in self-defense? These laws and guidelines tend to vary by state, but generally, self-defense must be determined by a certain set of criteria.
To start, to be acting in self-defense, the shooter or “actor” must be in legitimate fear for their life. They must have believed the fatal blow was to prevent imminent harm to their life. Were either of the attackers fired upon fleeing or immobilized? Did they present a viable threat? Was it necessary to fire upon all three?
Was the incident provoked? For self-defense to hold, the shooter usually must prove that their situation was not foreseeable and did not involve provoking a violent incident on their part. According to Wisconsin Law, the shooter must not be engaged in provocation or unlawful activity.
-Deadly force is not justified solely for property protection, especially if the shooter is not the owner, or is not related as an immediate family to the owner, or is not acting as an agent or employee of the owner.
What Will Happen in the Kyle Rittenhouse Case?
Because he acted as an unlawful agent and/or “vigilante”, it’s unlikely self-defense will hold in the Kyle Rittenhouse Case. Most likely, he may not go down for First Degree Murder or Intentional Homicide. Lawyers should easily be able to talk those charges down to manslaughter, and maybe even lesser offenses. He’ll also likely face unlawful weapon charges and potential felony brandishing since he can’t technically be licensed for open carry in the state.
It’s hard to say exactly how the ruling will go since the facts will likely be skewed by politics, the media, and the court of public opinion. One thing is for sure; however: it will be an interesting case. The real question in America, though: will this case of vigilantism go wrong lead to even more violence across the country? It’s likely in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, it inevitably will, especially in election season.
Even so, some believe he’ll be acquitted, but that remains to be seen. Self-Defense is not as easy to prove, as many may think. Only time will honestly tell for sure in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, which may help set a fascinating precedent.