BREAKING: Autopsy reveals that Kyle Rittenhouse’s first victim was shot in the back multiple times. Rittenhouse did not act in self-defense.
That popular post involved numerous elements and sub-claims, all of which are relevant.
On August 25 2020, demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin gathered to protest Jacob Blake‘s shooting; incidentally, Kenosha police shot Blake seven times in the back on August 23 2020.
It seemed possible that the person who posted this claim was conflating the two shootings:
Protesters in the Wisconsin city were demanding justice after an officer shot local resident Jacob Blake seven times in the back while his children watched from his car. As the 29-year-old Black man fought for his life at the hospital following the [August 23 2020], people marched, chanted and asked why for three days. At times, demonstrators and armed civilians faced off.
Then things took a deadly turn.
The teenager with the long gun scuffled with people near a car dealership and opened fire, allegedly killing two people and wounding a third, a criminal complaint says. Even as police and emergency vehicles raced to the scene and chaotic videos of the fatal encounter appeared on social media, the armed suspect walked past a group of officers unnoticed. He was arrested 30 miles away in Antioch, Illinois.
News reports identified the two protesters killed as Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber.
Injuries Sustained by Joseph Rosenbaum
Rosenbaum was the first person shot and killed at the protest. Associated Press reported that he was indeed shot in the back, but also in the groin and his left hand:
The medical examiner found that Rosenbaum was shot in the groin, back and left hand. The wounds fractured his pelvis and perforated his right lung and liver. He also suffered a superficial wound to his left thigh and a graze wound to his forehead.
On August 27 2020, WBBM-TV published extensive detail from a criminal complaint filed the same day, reporting:
Dr. P. Douglas Kelley of the Milwaukee Medical Examiner’s office determined that Rosenbaum suffered one gunshot to the groin that fractured his pelvis, another to the back which perforated his right lung and liver, another to the left hand, a superficial gunshot wound to his lateral left thigh, and a graze wound to the right side his forehead.
Rosenbaum was shot once in the back. Although he was shot multiple times, other rounds struck his groin, hand, and perforated his internal organs.
Rittenhouse’s Lawyer Claims Shooting Was in Self-Defense
The Facebook post claimed that Rittenhouse did not act in self-defense, and it was true his lawyer, L. Lin Wood, asserted otherwise:
“From my standpoint, it’s important that the message be clear to other Americans who are attacked that there will be legal resources available in the event false charges are brought against them,” he said. “Americans should never be deterred from exercising their right of self-defense.”
Another report quoted Wood further as he reiterated the self-defense claim:
Rittenhouse’s attorney decried the charges. “This young boy was not only attacked on the streets of Kenosha, he’s been attacked in the media and social media all over the damn world,” L. Lin Wood told CBS News. “It’s wrong. He’s a 17-year-old boy. He was not there to create trouble, but he found himself with his life threatened and he had the right to protect himself with self defense and now he finds himself accused of murder.”
On August 26 2020, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel addressed the question of whether Rittenhouse could reasonably be construed to have acted in self-defense, regardless of wound location. Experts offered opinions on elements of the shooting known at the time, but no conclusive analysis:
Anthony Cotton, a Waukesha defense attorney, said whether or not Rittenhouse legally possessed the rifle is trifling compared to the homicide charges.
Was Rittenhouse acting in self-defense when he fired his weapon?
Many gun-rights advocates believe he was, based only on watching the videos, but that would ultimately be a question for a jury to answer.
Nik Clark, president and CEO of Wisconsin Carry, a gun rights advocacy group, who instructs classes for those obtaining concealed carry permits, thinks Rittenhouse followed the principles of such courses.
“We teach to retreat when possible,” Clark said. “He’s fleeing, but the threat follows him.” He thought Rittenhouse showed restraint in not immediately shooting one of the people he later shot in the elbow after the man first halted his approach to Rittenhouse and then lunged at him.
Others will likely argue the people going after Rittenhouse in the street, after the first shooting, were attempting to detain him for police or get him to drop the gun and avoid further shootings.
Lawyers and gun rights advocates speculated on myriad elements of the incident, including whether Rittenhouse was legally of age to carry the weapon, whether the weapon was transported from his home in Antioch, Illinois across state lines to Kenosha, Wisconsin, and whether a reasonable attempt to “retreat” preceded the shooting.
A popular and widely-shared Facebook post asserted that an autopsy of “Kyle Rittenhouse’s first victim” Joseph Rosenbaum determined Rosenbaum “was shot in the back multiple times”; ergo, “Rittenhouse did not act in self-defense.” Milwaukee’s Medical Examiner in fact determined Rosenbaum was shot once in the back, and sustained several additional wounds. Rittenhouse’s lawyer has telegraphed an intent to claim the teen was acting in self-defense during the incident; the location of the victims’ wounds was only one of a number of possible elements to a self-defense claim.