During the second day of the defense case in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, witness and journalist Drew Hernandez testified that the first man that Rittenhouse shot, Joseph Rosenbaum, charged at the 17-year-old from behind before throwing an item and lunging at him, corroborating Rittenhouse’s attestation from Wednesday.
“The first thing I did identify was that Rosenbaum was charging Kyle Rittenhouse from behind. And as he’s charging him into the Car Source parking lot, a firearm goes off,” Hernandez said. He said he experienced this observation in real time, while he was on the scene that night.
“As the first firearm goes off, Rosenbaum is already charging Kyle from behind, attempts to throw a bag at him, not sure what’s inside of it. And Kyle…turns around and Rosenbaum is lunging towards him, very clearly, and Kyle fires,” the witness described.
Rittenhouse claimed Wednesday that Rosenbaum “chased” him, making him believe he was in real danger. Rosenbaum then hurled an item at him, later revealed to be a plastic bag, which Rittenhouse said he believed to be a metal projectile at the time. As Rosenbaum nearly caught up with him, Rittenhouse says he heard a gunshot go off behind him, prompting him to turn around. Mirroring Hernandez’ recollection, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum lurched toward him, adding that he grabbed the barrel of his gun, which Rittenhouse said he perceived as a direct threat to his person. Rittenhouse said he believed Rosenbaum intended to snatch his gun and use it “against” him. In response, Rittenhouse says he shot Rosenbaum four times in self-defense.
On August 26, 2020, Hernandez live tweeted what he witnessed while situated by the Kenosha unrest, crossing paths with Rittenhouse. During cross-examination Thursday, the prosecutor tried to expose Hernandez’s bias towards the defendant, pointing to his old tweets suggesting that had Rittenhouse not intervened with gunfire, the property he was “defending” might have been destroyed by rioters.
“It appears an armed citizen was defending the car dealership and opened fire on the rioter who was attempting to vandalize or burn the dealership down. Before this shooting took place, the rioters were planning to burn down their ‘next car dealership’,” Hernandez tweeted that night.
While the defense side of the case had no obligation to do so, Rittenhouse made the choice to testify in his own defense Wednesday to offer his account of the events in question. As the directing attorney asked him to recall the incidents of that day, in which he fatally shot two attackers and wounded another during a protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc., Rittenhouse turned emotional and sobbed and hyperventilated on the stand.
To bolster Rittenhouse’s affirmations, the defense called multiple witnesses Thursday, including Hernandez, self-defense expert Dr. John Black, and Kenosha Police Officer Brittni Bray. After two days of testimony, the defense said that they plan to rest their case Thursday afternoon.