Juror dismissed in Rittenhouse case after joke about Wisconsin shooting that sparked protests

National

Kyle Rittenhouse, center, returns to the courtroom for the jury selection portion of his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis, on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — A juror in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial was dismissed Thursday after a court security officer reported that the man told a joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which set off protests in the Wisconsin city where Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three people.

ABC4 affiliate WISN reports the joke was, “Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?” While the deputy stopped the juror from continuing to the punchline, the prosecutor tells the judge it was his understanding the punchline would have been, “Because they ran out of bullets.”

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said the security officer reported the remarks earlier this week. Prosecutor Thomas Binger said the remarks as shared showed racial bias. Blake, who is Black, was shot by a white Kenosha police officer and left partially paralyzed.

When Schroeder called the juror into the courtroom to discuss what he said, the juror said he didn’t want to repeat his comments. But Schroeder said it was “clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case” and that the juror would be dismissed.

The juror then responded: “It wasn’t anything to do with the case. It wasn’t anything to do with Kyle.”

Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, killed two people and injured a third during an August 2020 protest against police brutality in Kenosha. The protests started after the police officer shot Blake in the back while responding to a reported domestic disturbance. Blake had been fighting with officers and had a knife. The county prosecutor later declined to charge the officer.

Twenty jurors were seated this week for Rittenhouse’s trial on homicide and other charges, with Schroeder saying he would decide later which 12 would decide the case and which would be alternates.

Rittenhouse, who said he went to the protest that night to protect businesses from being damaged by protesters, could get life in prison if convicted in the politically polarizing case. Prosecutors have portrayed Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed, while his lawyer says Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates

IN FOCUS

More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files