A teenage vigilante charged with killing two people, who had been protesting the police shooting of African American Jacob Blake in Kenosha, will remain in custody in Illinois after a judge on Friday agreed to delay his extradition to Wisconsin.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was charged on Thursday in Wisconsin for shooting three men, including two fatally, during clashes with demonstrators on the streets of Kenosha on Tuesday night.
The former YMCA lifeguard did not appear for the livestreamed hearing in Lake County, Illinois, where he was arrested on Wednesday and is being held without bond pending extradition to Kenosha, said Lee Filas, a spokesman for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.
A public defender assigned to the case asked for a delay so that Rittenhouse could retain an attorney. The judge granted the request and set a new hearing date for Sept. 25, Filas said.
L. Lin Wood, who said he was part of Rittenhouse’s new legal team, indicated they would argue he acted in self-defense.
The proceedings diverted attention momentarily from the underlying act of violence on Sunday that convulsed Kenosha in the first place – a white police officer gunning down Blake in front of three of his children, leaving him paralyzed.
The incident turned Kenosha, a predominantly white city of about 100,000 along Lake Michigan, into the latest flashpoint in a summer of nationwide protests over police brutality and racism. It also served as one focal point for the thousands of protesters who gathered in Washington on Friday to commemorate the 1963 march where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr made his famed “I Have a Dream” speech.
Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., told CNN his son was fighting for his life and was shackled to his hospital bed, a situation he contrasted with Rittenhouse, who at one point on Tuesday was given water by the police, videos showed. Authorities said Blake was being held under an arrest warrant.
“That 17-year-old Caucasian shot and killed two people, and blew another man’s arm off,” he told CNN. “He got to go home, he got water, they gave that guy water and a high-five. My son got ICU and paralyzed from the waist down.”
Blake’s father said that when his son woke up, he said, “Why did they shoot me so many times?”
The drive for racial justice was ignited on May 25 when George Floyd, a Black man, died under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
- Jacob Blake handcuffed to hospital bed despite being paralyzed by police shooting
- Two killed as gunfire erupts in Wisconsin during protests over police shooting
‘I JUST KILLED SOMEBODY’
A criminal complaint released by Kenosha County on Thursday alleges that Rittenhouse fired an assault-style rifle at three protesters who tried to subdue him, killing two of them: 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, and Anthony Huber, 26.
The complaint contains elements likely to be used in Rittenhouse’s defense. Citing multiple cellphone videos and witnesses, the complaint says both Huber and Rosenbaum appeared to try to grab the teenager’s rifle before being shot.
It also referenced a video in which Rittenhouse said “I just killed somebody,” after shooting Rosenbaum in a parking lot.
In Kenosha, three nights of skirmishes between protesters and police gave way on Wednesday and Thursday to smaller, peaceful demonstrations. Officials have said, however, that they were worried tensions could rise again starting Friday night.
Protesters have been calling for criminal charges to be filed against the three police officers involved with Blake’s arrest and shooting, especially officer Rusten Sheskey, who authorities say fired all seven shots at Blake’s back.
The Wisconsin Justice Department, which is handling the investigation, said on Friday that Sheskey and another officer, Vincent Arenas, made two separate attempts to stop Blake with tasers before Sheskey discharged his gun.
It was the first time the identity of Arenas, an officer in Kenosha since February 2019, was disclosed. The department identified the third officer on the scene as Brittany Meronek, who joined the force last January.
The exact sequence of events leading to Blake’s shooting remained sketchy.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said on Wednesday the confrontation stemmed from a domestic complaint lodged by a girlfriend, and that investigators had recovered a knife from the front floorboard of the car that Blake was leaning into when Sheskey shot him.
Blake’s lead attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, said his client had no knife in his possession and did nothing to provoke or threaten police before being shot.