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Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty on All Charges. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired November 19, 2021 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But there hasn't been a huge number of people who have shown up on a daily basis here. There have been people on the steps every single day.
And, yes, tensions, they flare up at time. There have been people who -- one person was detained because they had a weapon within 1,000 feet of school. There's a school right across from the court, right through the park here in Kenosha.
That's against the law. And the deputies told him to either put the gun away or that he would be arrested if he did not comply with them.
But for the most part it has been peaceful. It has been cordial. People have been talking and arguing on the court steps but there hasn't been any major violence that we have seen unfold here in Kenosha.
What there is, though, is tension in the city because, as I've talked to many, many residents here, some folks going on this little trolley that goes through town, some folks at some of the places that are open here.
Everyone is a bit concerned about what might happen and what was going to happen no matter what the verdict was.
Now we are still seeing, you know, about two dozen people on the court steps, but nothing more yet.
This is very early, to be clear. We have just heard this verdict. The public is just now learning of this not-guilty verdict.
But we should also, to be clear -- because I know you mentioned Kyle Rittenhouse coming with the gun -- we should be clear, the gun was here in Kenosha.
There's been a lot of social media and a lot of politicians talking about him bringing it over state lines. Actually, we learned in the trial that the gun was here in Kenosha.
His friend had bought it for him. His friend was 18. Kyle was 17 so he could not purchase this weapon.
But, indeed, it was going after state lines was after the shooting occurred when he went home and eventually turned himself in with his mom.
But there are a lot of details in the trial, and if people are not watching the trial and making up their own details, it causes tensions to rise even more.
But so far, again, it is calm. There's some shouting. And there's some obviously upset outside the court. But for the most part, it has been a very calm day here.
The court is taking this all very, very seriously. There's security apparatus all around the court, some of it visible, some of it not.
And there's been lots of security within the court to make sure that these families, both the families of those shot by Kyle Rittenhouse and Kyle Rittenhouse and his family and attorneys, will all be able to exit this court safely and securely -- Ana?
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Sara, stand by.
I do want to bring in a lawyer as well, Charles Coleman Jr., who is a civil rights attorney.
Charles, first, your thoughts about the verdict today?
CHARLES COLEMAN JR, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, I think that this may be a surprise to many people's sensibilities but it should not be a surprise to your logic.
And what I mean by that is, trials, Ana, are oftentimes a tale of competing narratives. And I oftentimes say that the important piece is to control the narrative, whatever side you're on.
And in this case, what we saw were the competing narratives of Kyle Rittenhouse, on one hand, being a victim and, on one hand, being a vigilante.
And ultimately, what we know now is that the jury bought the narrative of Kyle Rittenhouse being a victim. They thought that his self-defense claim was a lot stronger than the prosecution's provocation claim.
I think that there were a lot of other things that took place during the course of this trial that didn't necessarily put the prosecution in the best of light.
But let's be clear about something. This was not a slam dunk from the prosecution from the get-go. They had an uphill battle to climb.
The judge in this case did not do them any favors with many of his rulings, from the very beginning, all the way through the entirety of the case.
However, it should be noted that the prosecution did not have great facts to work with from the outset.
And so while a lot of people out there may be looking at this case and wondering, how could this have happened, if, as the last guest said, they were watching the trial and paying attention to the details, you may have seen some of this coming.
At least an acquittal on -- of the charges, if not all of them, as we've seen here today.
CABRERA: There were lesser charges they could have considered, Charles, and so we never heard a verdict on those lesser charges for the most serious counts.
Is that typical that they wouldn't address those at all?
COLEMAN: It is typical in that they looked at the top counts, they looked at the more serious counts, and they decided that those were not things they were going to entertain.
So what it came down to -- the jury gets a verdict sheet and the verdict sheet has what the final charges are.
And there were those charges that were read to the jury that -- that were read to the public that the jury ultimately voted on and decided on.
And so they basically threw those out. And at this point, we're looking at Kyle Rittenhouse as a freeman.
I think it's important to understand that regardless of the outcome of this case, in some eyes, Kyle Rittenhouse was going to be a hero and, in some eyes, he was going to be a villain.
But what we now know, after seeing him walk, is he'll be remembered pretty much forever going forward.
CABRERA: Elie Honig, I know you're still with me.
Part of what made this case somewhat complicated is the law itself was complex in Wisconsin, specifically, when it comes to self-defense, right?
It was the burden on prosecution to essentially disprove his self- defense claim, right?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Ana. This verdict is not surprising really for the fundamental reason our system requires proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
That's the highest standard in our legal standard. As a prosecutor I bore that burden. We welcome that burden. That's a key feature of our democratic system, of our constitutional system.
And the way it works here is the prosecution had the burden of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
So if this was a difficult decision -- and I think there's a broad consensus that this was a close call and a difficult decision -- then the only right and just verdict here is not guilty. So it's important that we keep in mind that core feature of our
criminal justice system.
CABRERA: It is so important. Again, the law is the law.
And that's what they were basing their decision on as the jury deliberated, again, in the past 25 hours over the course of the past four days since they were given this case and it went into deliberations.
It was a jury of five men, seven women.
Let's go back to outside the courthouse and Sara Sidner.
I understand, Sara, the family members of Anthony Huber, one of the men shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse, are expected to exit any moment now. What can you tell us about this?
SIDNER: That's right. They have been in court. They have been watching this. His aunt, in particular, but other family members as well have been watching this case throughout.
Anthony Huber, as you may or may not know, was one of the people shot and killed that night in August by Kyle Rittenhouse.
He is shown on video running up to Kyle as Kyle has fallen on the ground with his gun pointing sort of out. And Huber had a skateboard with him.
After one man, who they named Jumpkick Man in this trial because, at the time, they could not identify him, Huber comes up and tries to strike and does strike Kyle Rittenhouse with his skateboard,
Which I think was the only weapon that they found on him or turned into a weapon at that time. He was shot and he died that day, that night, you know, on the scene basically.
You see the video of it all happening. It was captured by live- streamers who were live the whole night. And that video was played by the jury.
The jury also requested much of the video in this case and re-watched all of this.
And the defense had long said, look, he was being chased by people. You could hear in the video them saying, "Get him. Get his ass."
Sorry, it's cable news.
And so their point was, look, he was running for his life. He feared not only -- he doesn't only have to fear being killed, but Kyle Rittenhouse can also fear great bodily injury.
And they made that point, that if you fear great bodily injury or death, that you are allowed to defend yourself. And that is exactly what the jury decided that he did in every single one of these cases. And so the family, of course, of Anthony Huber going to be upset about this. They are going to, you know, not see that justice was done because they feel that their loved one was simply trying to stop someone who had shot someone and killed someone.
In their minds, he was doing something valiant. But in the jury's minds and in the defense's mind, he was -- Kyle Rittenhouse was simply defending himself from someone trying to attack him -- Ana?
CABRERA: One of the quotes from the defense attorney during the key arguments that they were making at the end was:
"Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle, one with a skateboard, one with his hands and one with his feet, one with a gun. Hands and feet can cause great bodily harm."
Going back to that self-defense claim that they based their case on.
I want to go to Adrianne Broaddus now, CNN's correspondent who is at the courthouse.
I understand you're with the family of Jacob Blake.
I'll remind our viewers, Jacob Blake was shot and killed by police. That's why there were protests in the street and unrest happening in -- not killed but shot by police and severely injured, paralyzed because of it.
Addrienne, what are you hearing from Jacob Blake's family?
ADDRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, I will let his family tell you. And we've been talking since the verdict came down.
And one of the things that struck me that Justin said moments ago.
You said this is worse than January 5th. And January 5th was the day we were here in Kenosha when that officer, who shot and injured your brother, was -- your nephew, excuse me, was cleared of all wrongdoing.
What's on your heart at this moment?
JUSTIN BLAKE, UNCLE OF JACOB BLAKE: Well, I just want the nation to know, everybody out there, we want the nation to know -- the nation that you live in now isn't the nation of the United States that we used to live in.
BROADDUS: So this is what's unfolding. You've got a divide here.
Don't go away.
You have folks on the left side who feel relief.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're an un-patriot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you have an all-white jury. I bet you do now, now, now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But a minute ago, you were worried. You're ignorant!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would respect this verdict regardless.
BROADDUS: So that's
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
BROADDUS: So, we're going to wrap. And that's what's playing out here. Two different beliefs today.
I'm going to send it back to you right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crawl back into the hole that you came from.
CABRERA: OK, we want everybody to stay safe, obviously. And we'll come back to you.
Thank you for sharing, again, some of the thoughts and feelings of people who were impacted to some degree by this whole situation.
We're just hearing from the family of Jacob Blake, again, which sparked the protests that happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that Kyle Rittenhouse then went to where then this all escalated.
And he ultimately shot and killed a couple of people and wounded a third person, he says, in self-defense.
Again, he has now been tried and acquitted on all of the counts related to that shooting that took place, again, in the summer of 2020.
Elie Honig, I have a question for you.
Given this is done, this is over when it comes to any kind of criminal charges related to these shootings, clearly, there will be family members who feel that this was not the right outcome.
Their loved ones died because of Kyle Rittenhouse. Do they have other legal avenues that they could pursue still?
HONIG: They do, Ana. They could file a civil suit seeking monetary damages, money damages.
But the criminal aspect of this case is decisively over with respect to the state of Wisconsin. He cannot be tried again. That would be double jeopardy. And the
prosecution does not have the ability to appeal an acquittal, a not- guilty verdict.
And, Ana, this is an important point to make. The whole point of our jury system is for the decision to be rendered dispassionately, separate and apart from whatever else is swirling out there in the world.
Judges stress this to every jury in every trial. You are to decide this case only on what you see in the four corners, the four walls of this courtroom and nothing else.
This is all about the facts and the law. And it's your job, jury, to apply the facts to the law, again, with the highest burden in our legal system, proof beyond a reasonable doubt necessary for a conviction.
So this is over for Kyle Rittenhouse in the state. He cannot be tried again. He's not guilty. And that's the end of it with respect to the state of Wisconsin.
CABRERA: And he -- he spoke at his own defense during this trial. That was a key moment, a pivotal moment in this trial that took course of eight days. It was 31 witnesses total. A very rapid trial.
Shimon Prokupecz was watching every moment of this.
And you have some reporting on defense and the attorneys, how they were feeling, what was going on prior to the verdict. What can you tell us about that?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, just within about an hour before the verdict came down, I was with the defense attorneys, and we were just -- they were getting kind of antsy, and they were trying to figure out what was going on, obviously, waiting for this verdict.
They felt confident. They were worried, though, over the video, the video, the drone video that they wanted -- the reason they asked the judge to declare a mistrial for.
They were worried that that drone video was going to create problems for them. They felt that that is ultimately what would give the jurors the provocation, the charge that the judge gave to the jury, that instruction about whether Kyle Rittenhouse instigated everything.
So they were worried about that. And they felt there were probably more people on their side than on the prosecution side, but they were worried about it.
Because also, yesterday, if you recall, there was a juror who asked to take the instructions, the juror instructions home. They were against it, and the judge allowed it.
And that perhaps could have been what was the tipping point. Because for two days really, yesterday and today, we had not heard anything from the jurors.
They ordered lunch around 11:00 or so. They ordered sandwiches. We were told by the court sandwiches were being delivered.
And then, within about an hour or so after that, we started to get a sense that something was going on, And then, obviously. we got word that there was a verdict.
But the attorneys were sort of -- they were kind of on edge, but they were confident because they thought that their self-defense claims and that the case that they put on was very good.
And they thought that they were going to be -- you know, in the end, they thought they were going to certainly win this case.
If not, they would certainly start arguing the mistrial motions and then direct the judge to overturn the convictions.
I can tell you, from this morning and my last conversations with them, they were pretty optimistic that things were going to go their way, and so it has.
This was a grueling few days for them, for the Rittenhouse family.
And really for the people who were shot, the victims in this case as well. Some grueling days. They were in the hallways every day waiting to hear what was going on.
And then also, you know, for the jurors. I mean, we didn't get to see many of them as they were deliberating, obviously. But, you know, sometimes they get questions and they come in.
They really only would come into the court at the end of the day when they were sent home and that was really our only read of them. And they seemed be getting along. Things seemed to be going along fairly well.
And it wasn't until yesterday that you could see that there was some division.
Specifically one juror, a woman sitting in the back room, the foreperson, that she wanted the instructions to take home and perhaps, perhaps that was the tipping point here. Obviously, we may never know.
It's interesting, though, the judge is basically saying he does not want the media reaching out to the jurors. But, you know, we'll see what happens.
For now, obviously, we wait to hear from the defense attorneys. We do think they may, at some point, speak to us, so we're waiting to hear about that.
CABRERA: And we wonder if we'll ever hear then from Kyle Rittenhouse also, if he will talk to the public. We heard from him during this trial as he shared his side of the story.
And you've mentioned that there may have been, you know, these discussions that, at times, there may have been divisions within the jury.
But let's be clear. When they delivered the verdict, when the foreperson read the verdict, this was unanimous. All 12 members of the jury agreed Kyle Rittenhouse was not guilty on all five counts.
And Laura Coates, former federal prosecutor, is with us now as well.
Laura, you and I have talked about this trial throughout the past couple of weeks as we watched and the developments took place. There were lots of twists and turns along the way.
Your reaction to its ending, the way this all came to a close?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I'm actually not surprised that this resulted in a not-guilty verdict because of the jury instructions, Ana.
And you spent a lot of time talking to me about the jury instructions figuring out why they were so consequential.
And I want to direct everyone to a particular moment when defense counsel and the prosecution were fighting with the judge over a particular portion of the instructions.
That being whether the jury would have to go beyond the idea of self- defense to reach the lesser included charges.
There was an argument that ensued, look, if -- if the jury in this case -- the trial jury in this case finds self-defense was used in some way or entitled to be used, then that's it, that ends the actual inquiry.
And you heard the prosecution very adamant about not wanting that to end it because they knew that they couldn't go down the line to lesser included offenses.
And a big part of me thinks to myself, this, of course, is where this came down to, the idea that if he was entitled to use self-defense with respect to the first victim, Mr. Rosenbaum, then a domino effect would occur to figure out whether he was entitled down the line.
His testimony was the most compelling aspect of this entire trial.
The prosecution's theme of this case, ultimately, you saw in the closing argument, but that was really sticking the landing and having the overall routine not being as compelling.
They thought they could make the case in Wisconsin about an active shooter and everyone else who responded to Kyle Rittenhouse were actually the ones reacting in self-defense.
That proved unpersuasive it seems to this particular jury. But it makes sense for two reasons.
One, Wisconsin is a place that has a gun culture that's not synonymous with criminal activity.
The idea of saying you want to alienate a gun owner would not have been persuasive enough.
The idea of saying, hey, they were acting in self-defense might have been compelling, except for the jury instruction, Ana.
The jury instruction said you have to view whether his belief in having to use self-defense was reasonable, not through the eyes in the jurors in hindsight, not in Monday morning quarterback, but through the eyes of then 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse and a person of ordinary intelligence.
And so when you saw him take the stand and explain why he himself thought he was in lethal danger at that point.
That probably was the one that tipped the needle, that tipped the scale and moved the needle to say, hey, this person in his testimony is exhibiting some aspects of ordinary intelligence, number one, that he believed that it was reasonable to do so.
And now, the burden went back to the prosecution where it always should stay to say, hey, we have proven that he was not reasonable in his belief, that he was in a kill or be killed scenario.
And so what you see here is, even through the closing arguments, Ana, as compelling as they would be about the active shooter and the reaction to an active shooter.
You have to actually, through your case, present evidence that disproves the very low threshold in Wisconsin where a defendant only has to offer some statement that they felt entitled to use self- defense, and you've got to disprove it.
And, of course, the two people who were killed might have been in a position to do so. But they couldn't testify. They were dead.
The third person testified that he, himself, had a gun and may have pointed it inadvertently at Kyle Rittenhouse.
In the chaotic theme that was throughout the defense's case is what ultimately, likely led to the not-guilty verdict in the end.
And as Elies has been speaking about, that is it. There's no other recourse for the prosecution in this case.
But there's this backdrop, Ana, the backdrop of the Jacob Blake shooting, which the defense, frankly, had the nerve and audacity to mention in this sense.
They said, look, seven shots to the back was deemed to be OK in this jurisdiction. My client only shot four times.
When I heard that, I thought to myself, you know what, this is somebody who is keenly aware of this political backdrop, a racial inflection point in this country, trying to relate Kyle Rittenhouse with a member of law enforcement, calling a use-of-force expert on to talk about that.
And you saw the climate around this environment. The discussion of him being somebody who had to usurp the authority of police because cops weren't doing anything about it at the time.
All of this combined, as you see now, to a full acquittal.
CABRERA: And now we're hearing from the family members of some of those people who were shoot by Kyle Rittenhouse.
Let's go back live to Sara Sidner.
What are you hearing, Sara?
SIDNER: The family of Anthony Huber, who was the second person shot and killed that night as Kyle Rittenhouse was being chased down the street and he fell, Anthony Huber is the person who had the skateboard in his hand and hit Kyle Rittenhouse with it, went across his body and was fired upon.
The family visibly upset in court. They have been here every day. They have been watching every movement of this trial and every question that the jury had.
And you know, they are upset. They feel that their loved one did something to try and stop someone who he believed was a danger to the public in their minds and that, you know, that he died in vain.
So we expect to hear more from the family of Anthony Huber.
And you know, as we go through this, what I think what Laura Coates just said is very, very important, that there's a political back drop to this.
Outside of the court, in the court, some of the political back drop was brought into the court, particularly by the defense.
A lot of people gasping at the comparison between Kyle Rittenhouse, who is not a police officer, and the officer who was never charged with anything in the shooting of Jacob Blake.
But the judge has been very clear in saying that this should not be based on anyone's politics. This should be based on the evidence in this case.
And it is clear that the jury did deliberate, and they did take their time, and did look over evidence, and they did ask questions. They did mull over what I think is the star evidence in the case, the video itself of each of these shootings.
And it just so happened that each of them were captured on video that night.
One from a drone from someone who brought that to the case very late in the case. And one -- a couple from live-streamers who were out following all of the action in the streets that night in August.
For some people, this is a stunning verdict.
For others, they predicted this would happen because, the whole time, they believed that Kyle was defending himself and that Mr. Rittenhouse was out here trying to help protect businesses. And all of this stuff came out in the trial.
But for those who did not watch the details of this trial, there are a lot of folks talking about it in very general terms.
But the details are what matter to a jury. And that is what the judge asked them to do.
And they did what they felt was the right thing by looking at all of the details that they sat through for a couple of weeks and then deliberated for three and a half days.
And they're decision is final, as has been said by our very smart lawyer -- lawyers who were on today. The decision is final.
There's nothing else that will happen with Kyle Rittenhouse in this case. He is a free man and can go about his life -- Ana?
CABRERA: Sara, stand by.
I want to go back to Charles Coleman Jr.
Because I think some people will look at this and not understand the law fully.
They may say, you know, we heard the prosecution present their argument that it was Kyle Rittenhouse who came there, who had this gun, who provoked essentially these men who he, ultimately, shot coming at him.
Why doesn't that hold water? At least the jury deciding that that didn't cut it?
COLEMAN: Well, ultimately, what this comes down to -- and I believe what it likely came down to for the jury - is, was Kyle Rittenhouse's claim to belief, the belief that he alleged on the stand, that he was in imminent threat of danger or losing his life, such that he had to respond with lethal force to defend himself, was that reasonable?
If you recall, there was testimony during his cross-examination where they talked about how the gun was being held and whether it was being held sideways.
The prosecutor, in that moment, attempted to try and suggest that because the gun was being held sideways like you might see in a movie, that somehow that made Rittenhouse's belief that his life was in danger less plausible.
But obviously, when it came to what the jury thought and what the jury felt in terms of how they reviewed this case, they still believed that Rittenhouse was reasonable in his feeling that his life was in danger and that it required the use of deadly force.
And so because of that, the provocation charge that they were read ultimately was outweighed by his claim -- by Rittenhouse's claim of self-defense.
CABRERA: Bob, who is also with us -- a reminder, he is a criminal defense lawyer and a former prosecutor.
What do you see as the key moment in this trial that may have been a tipping point for jurors?
BOB BIANCHI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, THE BIANCHI LAW GROUP & FORMER PROSECUTOR: I like to talk about the difference between narrative and facts, as you're so eloquently reporting.
We've been watching every day the trail of the facts. Not what was being reported as speculation, the politics of it.
As your guests are commenting, I want to look to that provocation. If he's engaging in unlawful conduct -- I'm reading it right now - "that provokes others to attack."
And then there's a line in there that is very, very important. It indicates that a belief may be reasonable, even if mistaken.
So when Kyle Rittenhouse gets on the stand after three of the government's witnesses had indicated that he was being chased, there were screaming and yelling at him, hitting him with skateboards and getting kicked in the face by Jumpkick Man, shots being fired behind him.
There were opportunities that he had to use the weapon where the people backed away and he didn't fire the weapon.
To all, whether they're on the liberal side or the conservative side, trial lawyers who have ever tried cases, these jury instructions are not that unique.
And virtually, I would imagine every state, given the burden of proof and presumption of innocence in this country and the prosecution has to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt to all 12 jurors.
How do you that when you saw no real provocation going on, him not threatening anybody. He's walking around with a medical kit.
And he came off as a cop wanna-be but they're pursuing him. And the government's witnesses were saying they were in fear for his life because of the people throwing rocks at him. And he was being pursued, his running away. Come on. It is not -- it is not about narratives. It is unfortunate that narratives is a wag in the dog here.
It is the facts that came out during the course of the case that showed that those narratives were, in large part, completely inaccurate.
And so this jury did its job by looking at the facts, taking its time, deliberating over the evidence.
And even though it may have been a mistaken belief, they believed Kyle Rittenhouse, under those circumstances, feared not only death but great bodily harm. A lot of people are missing that.
That could be a protracted loss of a body member or organ or what have you.
And when he's down on the ground and people are grabbing his weapon and he's been threatened already and he's trying to run away, he can't go anywhere -- there was a real trial lawyer, a trial lawyer that really tried cases that didn't sit here and say this is an amazingly good self-defense case.
And the sign of desperation for the prosecution was when they asked for the lesser-included offenses after Rittenhouse testified. They knew their self-defense claim was going down in flames.
And they were hoping -- I'm telling you this is what goes on as a trial tactic -- that would give the jurors, instead of saying not guilty on everything and guilty of the highest charges, they knew they had difficulty with the case.
So they wanted to give them a middle ground so they could land on, hopefully, so they could convict him of something. But there just wasn't the facts here to support it irrespective of the narratives.
CABRERA: OK. So obviously, we are looking at images live outside of the courthouse there in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where we could see there are a number of people gathered.
Obviously, a lot of media there who are reporting on the outcome of this trial, not guilty on all counts. Kyle Rittenhouse now a free 18- year-old man.
And we've also seen protesters. But not a lot. A number of people who are there with signs, who were perhaps hoping for a different outcome here.