Representative Thomas Massie (R., KY) said Thursday that if he were a juror, he would not convict 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse on any of the charges he is facing in connection with the fatal shooting of two people in Kenosha, Wis. during rioting in the city.
“The strongest thing in his favor is actually the video of the event … the video of him running down the street and falling,” Massie said on the Tom Roten Morning Show. “He was fulfilling his obligation to retreat. … He fell down. … He responded in self-defense. … I would not convict.”
“He also exhibited incredible restraint and presence and situational awareness,” Massie continued. “He didn’t empty a magazine into a crowd.”
On the third night of unrest in the city following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Rittenhouse allegedly shot and killed two men — Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber — and shot Gaige Grosskreutz, who was carrying a pistol, in the arm.
The teenager has been charged as an adult with six criminal counts, including two counts of first-degree homicide, one count of attempted homicide, and possession of a dangerous weapon by an underage individual.
“If I were on a jury and all I had was the evidence that I have been able to acquire through social media and the videos that are out there, I would not convict him of a single one of these charges,” Massie said.
Video footage from that evening appears to show a shot being fired before Rittenhouse fired his own weapon in the first incident that left one man dead. Video of the second shooting purportedly shows the 17-year-old tripping and then being attacked by a man wielding a skateboard and a man carrying a gun.
Representative Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) similarly spoke out in support of Rittenhouse in a tweet calling the killing “100% justified self defense,”
“Do not try to take a weapon away from a man or bear the consequences. The criminals here: Kenosha local government that allows the riots, burning and looting night after night. Armed citizens defending themselves will fill the vacuum,” he said.
Rittenhouse’s lawyer John Pierce said the teenager had traveled from a nearby town in Illinois with a medical kit and picked up the AR-15 rifle once in Wisconsin. Rittenhouse told reporters who interviewed him before the shootings that he was attempting to protect local businesses from rioters and looters. Pierce has argued that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.
“Where are the charges for aggravated assault against Kyle Rittenhouse?” Pierce said in an appearance on Fox News earlier this week. “As a 17-year-old, he was legally entitled to have that firearm in his possession. This is 100% self-defense, Tucker.”