In his opening statement, Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyer said that a Kenosha used-car dealer, Car Source, had asked Mr. Rittenhouse to help protect the business after arsonists set one of its car lots on fire during riots after Jacob Blake was shot.
On Friday — day five of the trial — the court heard from two members of the family that owns Car Source, Sahil “Sal” Khindri and Anmol “Sam” Khindri. Both were in in Kenosha on August 25, 2020, the day of the shooting. Both told the court that they had not asked anyone to protect their business.
Both men said that people with weapons and tactical gear showed up without invitation. “They were saying that they were here to protect Kenosha,” Sal Khindri said.
Both brothers were impressed by the way the volunteers were equipped; Sam said they looked like something from a movie. Sal posed for a photo with Kyle Rittenhouse and several others, including Dominick Black, Mr. Rittenhouse’s sister’s boyfriend, who brought him to Kenosha that day.
On cross examination, Sal Khindri said that one of the men in the photo was a former employee of Car Source, but he didn’t know it at the time, since he had not worked with that person. On re-cross, he said that he wasn’t aware that there had been armed, volunteer security at all of his family’s business locations. Car Source staff had clearly not tried to make the armed men go away.
Sam Khindri, Car Source’s inventory manager, was a poor witness, often answering that he did not know or remember things that he probably should have known, such as the costs of the earlier riot damage. He exasperated the defense team by saying that he did not understand questions. He said he gave Kyle Rittenhouse his phone number after Mr. Rittenhouse offered to help his family with a crowd-funding campaign. He later got a text message from Mr. Rittenhouse that said, “Hey Sam it’s Kyle do you need anyone to protect your business tonight I’m more than willing and will be armed I just need address. Me and my brother would both be there armed.”
Mr. Khindri said that he did not see the message until the next day, and that when he read it, he did not know who Kyle was. He said “hundreds of thousands of people” had his cell phone number, and he received many offers of help.
Sam Khindri testified that he did not hand over keys or give permission for anyone to “guard or protect” his business, even though Dominick Black testified that he had. Mr. Khindri said he found a stack of tires on the cab of a pickup truck and he thought people who came to protect the property might have used it to climb onto the roof of his building.
Defense lawyer Corey Chirafisi asked, “Were you just willing to let your property be damaged on the 25th?”
Mr. Khindri replied, “After seeing the destruction, there was nothing I could do.”
The defense showed media interviews Mr. Khindri gave, in which he said insurance wasn’t covering the arson damage to vehicles. There was also an article in which he was interviewed, claiming the family had \$2.5 million in damages. Mr. Khindri would not admit that insurance had not covered the losses. The Khindris gave inconclusive, sometimes confusing testimony
On Monday — day six of the trial — Gaige Grosskreutz took the stand. He was wounded in the arm, and is the only survivor of the three men Mr. Rittenhouse shot in Kenosha.
Mr. Grosskreutz, now 26, became an EMT and then a paramedic. He worked for an ambulance service, mostly with older patients. He said he had treated a gunshot wound. He completed a firefighter course and said that he is working towards a degree in Outdoor Education. He has worked as a sea kayak guide. He added that paramedic experience is valuable, because he took people on tours in areas more than an hour from a hospital.
After George Floyd’s death, Mr. Grosskreutz demonstrated in Milwaukee. People held signs and chanted and there was no rioting. He had been there for a few hours, when someone yelled, “Medic! Medic!”
Someone tripped over a curb and Mr. Grosskreutz helped him. He realized that there was no organized first aid, and he volunteered to give first aid at demonstrations. A friend outfitted a pickup truck as a mobile aid station, and they attended protests, giving first aid when needed. They had decided not to participate in demonstrations, and they treated anyone who needed help, regardless of politics. He said most of the problems were “people not taking care of themselves” from being overheated and dehydrated, and there were injuries such as sprained ankles.
Mr. Grosskreutz did not have the mobile first aid station when he went to Kenosha, but he had a backpack with medical supplies, such as Quik Clot, a tourniquet, gloves, and saline spray. Mr. Rittenhouse packed some of the same items in his own kit. Mr. Grosskreutz wore a blue hat that said “Paramedic.” He was armed with a loaded handgun, holstered in the small of his back, although his conceal carry permit had expired. He told the court he had been armed at other demonstrations.
He went to Kenosha alone, with no plans to meet anyone. When he arrived at the courthouse, people were throwing water bottles at police, who were shooting pepper balls. He found someone whose eyes had been hurt by the pepper spray. He treated the person and told others how to clean eyes after pepper spray. Mr. Grosskreutz guessed he had helped 10 people that night. He said the most serious injury he had seen was a deep cut in a woman’s arm, which he thought was from a rubber bullet. When no one needed help, he used his phone to do a Facebook livestream. He told the court he did this because he is an ACLU legal observer.
Mr. Grosskreutz saw people with AR-15s on the roof of Car Source. He also saw Mr. Rittenhouse offering to help someone with a foot injury. Mr. Grosskreutz heard someone yell, “Don’t let them treat you!” — presumably because Mr. Rittenhouse was carrying a rifle — but he did not step in. He said he did not see Rittenhouse giving aid, so he couldn’t say whether he did it correctly. He did notice that Mr. Rittenhouse was wearing blue latex gloves, like the ones Mr. Grosskreutz wears at work.
Mr. Grosskreutz did not know Joseph Rosenbaum and did not remember seeing him at any time that night. He did not hear anyone say, “If I get you alone, I’m going to (bleep) kill you!” — the words witness Ryan Balch said Mr. Rosenbaum shouted at Mr. Rittenhouse.
Mr. Grosskreutz heard gunshots and people yelling, “Medic!” so he ran in the direction of the gunfire, still livestreaming. People shouted that someone was shot. As Mr. Grosskreutz ran, Kyle Rittenhouse ran past him.
The livestream video was shown to the jury:
Rittenhouse is running. A voice in the background shouts, “Why did you shoot him?”
Mr. Grosskreutz says to Rittenhouse, “Hey, what are you doing? You just shot somebody?”
Rittenhouse says, “I’m going to the police,” and keeps running.
“Who’s shot? Who’s shot?” Mr. Grosskreutz asks.
At the time, Mr. Grosskreutz thought Rittenhouse said, “I’m working with the police. I didn’t do anything.” After reviewing the video, he confirmed that he was mistaken and Rittenhouse said, “I’m going to the police.”
He wanted to find the person who had been shot and he started to turn and look for him, but he changed course when people around him yelled, “He just shot that guy! He just shot somebody!” He told the prosecutor he ran in the same direction as Kyle Rittenhouse, but he didn’t run after him. Although Mr. Rosenbaum was lying on the ground, dying, Mr. Grosskreutz said he thought his medic services might be more useful wherever Mr. Rittenhouse was going. More people joined the mob and yelled, “Get him!” Mr. Grosskreutz considered Mr. Rittenhouse an “active shooter.”
Mr. Grosskreutz told the court he pulled his gun while he was running behind Mr. Rittenhouse, because he heard more gunshots and he wanted to be ready in case he had to fire. He saw Anthony Huber hit Mr. Rittenhouse with a skateboard; then he watched Mr. Rittenhouse shoot Huber. A video taken by live-streamer “BG at the Scene” showed that Mr. Grosskreutz held his hands up after Anthony Huber was shot. Mr. Grosskreutz answered questions about the video, but he said “You can see in the video I’m not too far behind, and the defendant had, after murdering Anthony Huber . . . .”
There was an objection over the word “murdering;” Judge Shroeder sustained the objection and told the jury, “Whether the death of Anthony Huber was caused by a murder is for you jurors to decide and not for the witness.”
Mr. Grosskreutz thought it was “highly likely” that he would also be shot. He said Mr. Rittenhouse pointed the AR-15 at him while his hands were up and then “reracked” the weapon, which put a new round in the chamber. “I thought it meant that the defendant pulled the trigger while my hands were in the air, but the gun didn’t fire. So, then by reracking the weapon, I inferred that the defendant wasn’t accepting my surrender.”
He thought he would be shot at “again.” Mr. Grosskreutz closed the distance, thinking he might wrestle the gun away. “I was never trying to kill the defendant,” Grosskreutz said, looking over at Mr. Rittenhouse who gave a slight nod.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger asked why Mr. Grosskreutz did not shoot Rittenhouse first, given that he knew he shot someone earlier, and he had just seen Rittenhouse fire at Huber. “That’s not the kind of person I am,” Mr. Grosskreutz said. “That’s not why I was out there. . . . I spent my time, my money, my education, providing care for people. . . . It’s not who I am. And definitely not someone who I would want to become.” At Mr. Binger’s prompting, he said that he did not fire his gun at all that night.
Mr. Grosskreutz’s lip trembled as the video of his arm being shot was played in court. The bullet blew away much of his right bicep. He was taken to a hospital, but was flown to a better equipped facility in Milwaukee. He needed emergency surgery, and it took several procedures to repair his arm. He spent a week in the hospital.
Mr. Grosskreutz had several months of physical therapy. “Muscle doesn’t grow back,” he said, so he now has trouble lifting things. He has nerve damage and can’t feel the area from his bicep to his thumb. He can move four fingers, but can’t control his thumb. He told the court he was threatened online, and people threatened his mother and grandmother outside their home.
Anticipating the defense’s argument, Mr. Binger asked Mr. Grosskreutz about turning his phone over to the police. He said he had been willing to do so, that he never refused to.
At the end of his examination, Mr. Binger asked Mr. Grosskreutz to describe the tattoo on his damaged arm. It is an image of a snake wrapped around a staff, a common medical symbol, with the words “Do No Harm.” The part that said “Do Know Harm” has been blown off.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s lawyer, Corey Chirafisi, asked Mr. Grosskreutz if he told police that his gun had fallen off his waist when officers visited him in the hospital the next morning. Mr. Grosskreutz said he didn’t remember, but Mr. Chirafisi showed him the police document, impeaching the witness. There was a back-and-forth with Mr. Chirifisi trying to get Mr. Grosskreutz to own up to the lie, but he was adamant that he had not lied. Mr. Chirafisi showed that Mr. Grosskreutz had stated: “I told multiple officers that I dropped my firearm.” The video evidence shows that the gun was in his hand even after his arm was shot. Eventually, Mr. Grosskreutz admitted that he failed to tell the police he had a gun with him that night.
Mr. Grosskreutz also kept denying that he chased Rittenhouse with his gun, and that he only “ran after” him. Asked if he was a member of Our Wisconsin Revolution and The People’s Revolution, Mr. Grosskreutz said he was not a member, but he admitted that he spoke at one of their rallies, saying “Long live the revolution!” with a raised fist. He said he had an affiliation with them. Some were present in court, watching his testimony.
Six hours after being shot, Mr. Grosskreutz had a lawyer. He filed a negligence claim against the city of Kenosha asking for \$10 million dollars. The claim says nothing about Mr. Grosskreutz having a firearm that night. He also filed a lawsuit in federal court, which also does not mention that he was armed when he was shot. He agreed with Mr. Chirafisi that if Rittenhouse were convicted, his chances of getting \$10 million would be better.
Mr. Grosskreutz also agreed that whether Mr. Rittenhouse was a medic or not, he was asking people if they needed help and not threatening anyone. His livestream video also showed Mr. Rittenhouse pulling a dumpster out of the middle of the road. Someone told him to stop, but he cleared the road anyway.
Mr. Chirafisi asked Mr. Grosskreutz if he had been charged for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, since his permit expired on August 25, 2020. He was not charged, nor was he charged for lying to police about having no weapon.
Mr. Grosskreutz said during cross examination that did he not know what happened to Rosenbaum; he did not see Mr. Rittenhouse shoot him. And yet, when he saw Mr. Rittenhouse running toward police, saying “I’m going to the police,” he dug into his waistband to get his gun.
Shown a photo of himself pulling out his gun, Mr. Grosskreuz estimated that Mr. Rittenhouse was 30 feet ahead of him at that time. He ran behind Mr. Rittenhouse with the gun out, but refused to admit that he was chasing him. He said more people joined the chase, and he heard them yelling, “Get him!” and “Get his ass!” Mr. Grosskreutz said he feared for Mr. Rittenhouse’s safety. He saw the unidentified person, known in this trial as Jump Kick Man, “going over the defendant,” but he did not see him deliver a kick.
Mr. Grosskreutz acknowledged it was fair to say that Mr. Rittenhouse was in physical danger because he was being attacked. He said, as a medic, he was concerned because Mr. Rittenhouse had been hit in the head with a skateboard, and head trauma can be serious. He wrote in his statement to police, “I tried telling the guy to stop hitting him with the skateboard. The guy on the ground then turned over, racked the weapon, pointed it at me, and shot me.” Mr. Grosskruetz admitted on the stand that he never told Anthony Huber to stop.
When Mr. Chirsfisi accused Mr. Grosskreutz of omitting from his statement to police the fact that he ran up on Rittenhouse with a Glock pistol in his hand, Mr. Grosskreutz said that it was not a purposeful omission. He was still in the hospital and on pain medicine. Mr. Chirafisi countered that despite the drugs, Mr. Grosskreutz managed to tell the police officer exactly what Rittenhouse was wearing, and he had decided not to tell the police what he did for a living. Mr. Grosskreutz insisted that he neglected to tell the cops he had a gun in his hand because of “pain meds” and “the traumatic experience I had just gone through.”
The lawyer Mr. Grosskreutz hired told him not to talk to the police. The police had a search warrant for his phone, but he did not turn it over. On redirect, he said he dropped his phone after he was shot, so he didn’t have it with him when the police asked for it at the hospital.
The defense played video showing Mr. Rittenhouse on the ground, with his gun out. An unidentified, unarmed man ran up to him, then “put on the brakes” at the last second and backed away. Mr. Rittenhouse did not fire on this unarmed man.
The defense showed a still of the moment Mr. Grosskruetz was shot. His arm is being torn up by the bulled. Mr. Rittenhouse is “on his butt,” as Mr. Chirafisi put it, and Mr. Grosskreutz is standing over him, with his gun pointed down at him. Mr. Chirafisi said, “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him, with your gun, not your hands, down, pointed at him, that he fired. Right?”
Mr. Grosskreutz answered, “Correct.”
Defense: “With your arms up in the air, he never fired?”
Gaige Grosskreutz: “Correct.”
Defense: “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him, with your gun…pointed at him that he fired?”
— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) November 8, 2021
When asked if he had any regrets about that evening, Mr. Grosskreutz said no. Mr. Chirafisi quoted a social media post from Mr. Grosskreutz’s former roommate, Jacob Marshall, that claimed he had told Marshall his “only regret was not killing the kid, and hesitating to pull the gun before emptying the entire mag into him.”
Mr. Grosskreutz said, “No, I never said that.”
Redirect was tense as the prosecutor tried to do damage control after Mr. Grosskreutz’s admission that Mr. Rittenhouse had fired only after Mr. Grosskreutz advanced on him with a gun pointed at him. Mr. Grosskreutz said that he never intentionally pointed his gun at Rittenhouse; he would have been further away if he had wanted to shoot him. He said he would not have held a gun in that position if had intended to shoot him. Mr. Chirafisi had Mr. Grosskreutz acknowledge that he never said a word to Rittenhouse; he approached him with his gun out, from three feet away, without a word.
Mr. Binger asked Mr. Grosskreutz if Mr. Rittenhouse lied to him, and Mr. Grosskreutz said, “Yes.”
Mr. Chirafisi quickly said, “He didn’t lie to you! How did he lie to you?”
Mr. Grosskreutz explained that Mr. Rittenhouse lied when he said he had done nothing. There is no evidence that Mr. Rittenhouse ever said this, and Mr. Grosskreutz had admitted earlier in the testimony that he was mistaken about that comment.
On balance, Mr. Grosskreutz appeared credible when it really mattered. He seemed sincere. The moment he said that he wasn’t going to kill the defendant — and Mr. Rittenhouse nodded — was touching, almost apologetic. I could imagine that in a different setting these two men might even make amends.
The defense certainly proved that Mr. Grosskreutz tried to deceive the cops, but he did not come across as a liar. The jury will be sympathetic to anyone who had to be airlifted from one hospital to a better one, and then go through several operations.
The still photo included in this article may be what ultimately convinces the jurors. Mr. Rittenhouse is vulnerable, on the ground, and Mr. Grosskreutz’s gun is pointed at his head. Mr. Grosskreutz’s stance looks aggressive, even as his arm is being blown apart. It looks like either of them could have pulled the trigger — Mr. Rittenhouse just managed to do it first — and that is self-defense.