Kyle Rittenhouse Defends Fatal Shooting: ‘I Did What I Had to Do’

Kyle Rittenhouse

Photo illustration by Katie Couric Media

The defendant’s testimony is considered highly unusual.

Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand to testify in his own defense on Wednesday during his homicide trial. The dramatic case stems from Rittenhouse shooting three men — including two who were killed — last summer during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. Here’s what you need to know. 

What are the charges against Kyle Rittenhouse?

Rittenhouse faces six felony charges: first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. 

What was his defense?

The 18-year-old, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, testified that went to Kenosha, Wis., with a military-style weapon to provide first aid and put out fires, but he said he was forced to shoot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and seriously injure Gaige Grosskreutz because he was being attacked. “I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me,” he said during the cross-examination.

What’s more, is Rittenhouse said he was “cornered” by Huber and Rosenbaum who had previously threatened to kill him before opening fire. He then shot Grosskreutz when the armed paramedic lunged at him while pointing a gun. At one point, Rittenhouse became so emotional while describing these encounters that the judge had to break for a brief recess.

Could the case end in a mistrial?

Rittenhouse’s defense asked for a mistrial with prejudice and accused the prosecutors of misconduct. Defense lawyer Corey Chirafisi disagreed with prosecutors’ references to Rittenhouse’s silence leading up to the trial, as well as their question over a video that the judge had already deemed inadmissible. 

The judge didn’t immediately rule on this request, though he was clearly angry with the prosecution in what he called a “grave constitutional violation.” If a mistrial is declared, Rittenhouse cannot be retried in the deadly shootings. 

As the trial nears its end, stay tuned for what is expected to be a high-stakes outcome. The judge told jury members on Wednesday to expect the case to wrap up by early next week.