Fact Check: Kyle Rittenhouse Case

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 file photo, Kyle Rittenhouse carries a weapon as he walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., during a night of unrest following the weekend police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faces a hearing Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 on whether he should be sent to Wisconsin to stand trial on homicide charges that could put him in prison for life. (Adam Rogan/The Journal Times via AP, File)

Due to the highly politicized nature of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, misinformation has spread like wildfire. These are the facts of the case. 

Claim: Kyle Rittenhouse travelled from out of state to defend a business during the August 25th riot following the shooting of Jacob Blake. 

Kyle Rittenhouse lived in Antioch Illinois with his mother roughly 20 miles from Kenosha and worked as a life guard in the Kenosha. 

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On August 24th, the day before the shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse worked as a life guard and finished his shift at 8:00pm. Afterward he would head to the home of Dominic Black in Kenosha where he would stay the night. On the night of the 24th riots erupted in downtown Kenosha. Black and Rittenhouse stayed at the residence. 

The next morning, Black and Kyle made for town in order to assist business owners in the cleaning of rubble. The pair also assisted the local high-school in cleaning graffiti from its walls according to testimony given by Black. Along the way they would meet the owner of Car Source. Black and Rittenhouse exchanged numbers with the man with the promise of help if needed. 

The night of the 25th Black and Rittenhouse agreed to help the owner of Car Source defend the two business locations he had in town. 

Ruling: Partly true. Kyle did travel from out of state to be in Kenosha, but for work and not the express purpose of attending a riot and defending businesses. 

Claim: Kyle Rittenhouse illegally possessed his rifle. 

Kyle Rittenhouse, on the night of August 25 possessed a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle loaded with .223 ammunition. He is currently being charged with “Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18” under Wisconsin statute 948.60(2)(a) Which states:  

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“Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.” 

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It is unlikely that Kyle Rittenhouse will be found guilty due to an exception made in the law under statute 948.60(3)(c) that states: 

“This section applies only to a person under 18 years of age who possesses or is armed with a rifle or a shotgun if the person is in violation of s. 941.28 or is not in compliance with ss. 29.304 and 29.593.” 

Each statute listed is a separate law that the individual must not be violating. If the person under 18 is in compliance with all 3 statutes the rifle or shotgun is legally possessed. 

The first statute, 941.28 deals with short barrel rifles and shotguns and expressly outlaws them in the state. A short barrel rifle is defined as any rifle smaller than 16 inches in barrel  length, and 26 inches in overall length. Kyle’s rifle was a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 with a barrel length of 16 inches, and overall length of 32 inches. 

The next statute, 29.304, deals only with restrictions regarding individuals aged younger than 16. Rittenhouse was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, therefore he cannot possibly be violating that specific statute. 

The final statute that Kyle must be in compliance with is a hunting regulation. It makes it illegal for a person to hunt without a hunting license. Rittenhouse cannot be violating this statute because he is not hunting. No where in the statute does it say that a person MUST be hunting to possess a firearm. It only prohibits poaching. Kyle was not participating in prohibited behavior, therefore he is in compliance. 

On the night of August the 25th Rittenhouse was in compliance with all statutes listed under 948.60(3)(c) and matches the exception made exactly. This exception only allows for 17 year olds (not anyone younger than 17) to possess only a rifle or shotgun.  

Ruling: False. Rittenhouse was legally possessing his rifle and was in compliance with Wisconsin law despite charges. 

Claim: Gaige Grosskruetz (man seen on video with a handgun pointed at Kyle) was a felon and unable to possess. 

There is no Indication anywhere that Grosskreutz is a felon. He does however have a criminal record that shows he was found guilty of “breaking Wisconsin’s law governing the use of a dangerous weapon” due to possession while under the influence. 

Ruling: False. Grosskreutz is not a felon, and is legally allowed to posses a firearm in the state of Wisconsin. 

Claim: Joseph Rosenbaum (first man shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse) is guilty of having sexual relations with a minor(s)

According to records obtained by Snopes, Joseph Rosenbaum was found guilty of molesting 5 children, all boys between the ages of 9 and 11 years old while he was 19 and living in Arizona. 

Ruling: True

Claim: Rosenbaum had started a dumpster fire and pushed the dumpster towards ‘Ultimate Gas Station’

Photo and video evidence of Joseph Rosenbaum undeniably proves that he was involved in the starting of dumpster fires, and pushed those dumpsters containing lit fires in the direction of the gas refueling station.
Ruling: True. 

Claim: Rosenbaum had left a Psychiatric hospital the day of the shooting. 

According to a documentary published by the Washington Post, and Rosenbaum’s fiancé, he had been released from a psychiatric care facility on August 25th 2020 after overdosing in the Kenosha McDonalds parking lot. 

The bag that Rosenbaum eventually throws at Rittenhouse just before he is shot, is a bag containing his belongings from the hospital. 

Ruling: True. 

Claim: Anthony Huber (second man shot, who possessed a skateboard) has a criminal history of violence

According to records obtained by Snopes, Huber, used a knife to threaten his brother and grandmother. He held the two hostage and choked his brother. 

Huber was found guilty of False imprisonments as well as Suffocation and Strangulation, which are both felony charges. 

Ruling: True. 

Claim: Rittenhouse has a criminal record. 

Rittenhouse does not have a criminal record aside from two traffic forfeitures regarding speeding on a freeway (20-24mph) and driving without a valid license which are not criminal offenses. All other charges filed against him are in regards to August 25th.

The Kyle Rittenhouse in question has the middle name “Howard”. 

Wisconsin Circuit Court’s Public Access Website indicates that a 33 year old “Kyle Joseph Rittenhouse” from Rock county has a criminal record and was charged with possession of THC, Operating a firearm while intoxicated and Disorderly conduct. 

This is likely where the misconception comes from. The “Kyle Rittenhouse” with a criminal record is an entirely different person. 

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Ruling: False 

Claim: Rittenhouse was acting as a medic for both protestors and militia men. 

Kyle Rittenhouse is seen on almost every occasion that he is filmed before the shootings yelling “medic”, “does anyone need medical attention”, “EMT”, and “medical”.

In an interview conducted by Richard McGinnis from the Daily Calker prior to the shooting, Rittenhouse indicated that his “job” is to help people and that if someone was injured he would “run into danger” to save them. In the video he displays his medkit. 

During Dominic Black’s testimony in court he made reference to the times that Rittenhouse brought protestors into the Car Source building to render aid in a safe place. 

Ruling: True. 

Claim: Rittenhouse wore latex gloves to prevent leaving fingers prints on his weapon. 

Rittenhouse wore blue latex gloves virtually all night. It’s reasonable to assume that the intended purpose was to avoid bodily fluids from touching his skin while rendering medical aid. 

If Kyle intended to prevent the creation of evidence that he had touched the gun, he would not have volunteered  to be a member of Rich McGinnis’ interview while holding the weapon.  

Ruling: False. 

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