KEY POINTS

  • Kyle Rittenhouse was allegedly chased and threatened before he opened fire in Kenosha, Wisconsin, his lawyer claimed
  • The then-17-year-old fatally shot two unarmed men and injured an armed one
  • Rittenhouse's defense claimed the teen had been attacked like an animal and acted in self-defense

Kyle Rittenhouse was attacked "like an animal" before he fatally shot two unarmed men and injured an armed one during anti-police brutality protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over a year ago, the teen's lawyer claimed.

Rittenhouse was armed with a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle when he chased down an unarmed Joseph Rosenbaum along Sheridan Road on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, and shot him four times, including a fatal shot to the back of the 36-year-old, a prosecutor said Tuesday in opening statements of Rittenhouse's homicide trial.

The teen, who was 17 at the time, then fatally shot an unarmed Anthony Huber, 26, before shooting and injuring an armed Gaige Grosskreutz, then 26, KOMU 8 reported, citing Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger.

Rittenhouse later left the scene still armed and walked toward officers with his hands up, but police passed by him and did not arrest him. He went home and turned himself in at his local police department the next morning.

The teen shooter — who is now facing multiple charges over the incident — was the only person out of hundreds who killed someone the night people gathered on the streets to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake that occurred two days prior, Binger said.

Mark Richards, the teen's attorney, claimed his client was the exception because Rittenhouse "was the only person who was chased by Joseph Rosenbaum that evening," The New York Times reported.

Rittenhouse's defense further claimed that the teen only fired his weapon after he directly received "flat out threats" that he would be murdered by Rosenbaum, according to Law & Crime.

"Kyle Rittenhouse protected himself, protected his firearm so it couldn’t be taken — used against him or other people," Richards told the Kenosha County Circuit Court. "And the other individuals who didn't see that shooting attacked him in the street like an animal."

The shooter's defense also reportedly characterized Huber and Grosskreutz, the latter of whom was left paralyzed by the shooting, as aggressors. Prosecutors had earlier described the two as citizens who were trying to stop an active shooter.

Richards noted that Huber had bludgeoned Rittenhouse with a skateboard and that the people around Rittenhouse also carried items that could have been used as deadly weapons, such as a flashlight and a chain.

An unidentified man was also captured on video jump-kicking Rittenhouse in the face, which placed the teen "flat on his back" and "in the most vulnerable position one can be in," according to Richards.

Rittenhouse is facing several charges for shooting three people and killing two, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, among others.

The teen's trial, which is presided by Judge Bruce Schroeder, is expected to last just over two weeks.

gun-728958_1920 Representation. Kyle Rittenhouse chased down an unarmed man and fatally shot him in the back, prosecutors said. Photo: Pixabay