On Thursday, a juror was dismissed from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial for allegedly joking about last year’s police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, which prompted the protests in Wisconsin where Rittenhouse fatally shot two demonstrators.
According to WBBM, prosecutors said the dismissed juror jokingly asked the courthouse deputy, “Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times? Because they ran out of bullets.” Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said the joke was not only inappropriate but showed racial bias.
Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder asked the juror, a middle-aged man, to repeat the joke but he refused and claimed his comments “had nothing to do with the case.” The judge ultimately decided to remove the juror to preserve the public’s confidence in the high-profile trial, WBBM reported.
“It is clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case,” Schroder said, according to Kenosha News.
The juror’s removal from the trial leaves a 19-person jury comprised of 12 primary jurors and seven substitutes.
On August 23, 2020, Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, 29, while responding to a domestic incident. Officers reportedly attempted to arrest Blake and tased him before Sheskey shot him in the back seven times as he attempted to get into an SUV.
Kenosha County prosecutors announced in January of this year that no charges would be filed in the controversial shooting that left Blake paralyzed.
Two days after Blake’s shooting, Rittenhouse, then 17, shot three demonstrators at a protest regarding the incident. Joesph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, were killed while the third man survived.
Rittenhouse is accused of using an illegally-obtained AR-15-style weapon to carry out last year’s shooting. He claimed while at the protest, he was hit in the head and neck with a baseball bat and skateboard. While medics reportedly observed superficial scratches on his arm, they did not see any bruising or cuts.
Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominick Black, 19, allegedly asked Rittenhouse to join him in protecting a Car Source business during the protest. However, multiple reports indicated that the owner of the Car Source never asked the pair to guard his business.
Black was arrested last November for allegedly buying the gun Rittenhouse used in the deadly shooting. Black allegedly used Rittenhouse’s money to make the purchase in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, but the weapon was registered to Black’s name.
After the shooting, Black allegedly drove Rittenhouse back to Antioch, Illinois, where Rittenhouse was arrested days later.
Rittenhouse, who is free on a $2 million bond, is charged with intentional homicide, attempted homicide, reckless homicide, recklessly endangering safety, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
Court proceedings continued on Thursday with testimony from Kenosha Police Detective Martin Howard — who revealed that another protestor fired a shot into the air seconds before Rittenhouse opened fire.
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[Featured image: Kyle Rittenhouse/Antioch Police Department, YouTube Video Screengrab]