How Kyle Rittenhouse Almost Killed The ‘Good Guy With A Gun’
Gaige Grosskreutz is the only survivor from Kyle Rittenhouse's vigilante rampage last summer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Grosskreutz testified Monday for the prosecution, obviously, but rightwing media seems to think he “blew up" the state's case and will ensure that Rittenhouse will walk out of court a free man. It was like the climax to a “Matlock" episode.
See, Grosskreutz admitted on the stand that he was carrying a gun and that he pointed it at Rittenhouse, who'd just fatally shot someone with his much larger gun. Obviously, Rittenhouse had reason to fear for his life. When people see you gun down someone, they can become downright unreasonable.
Gaige Grosskreutz, a trained paramedic, told jurors he hadn't planned to shoot Rittenhouse even though he believed the teen to be an active shooter. Having seen Rittenhouse already kill one man, he assumed he would be next.
"I was never trying to kill the defendant," Grosskreutz said. "That was never something I was trying to do. In that moment, I was trying to preserve my own life. But doing so, also, taking the life of another is not something I am capable or comfortable of doing. It goes against almost a lifelong ethical code in regards to medicine."
Grosskreutz is the literal “good guy with a gun" whom the National Rifle Association always invokes whenever there's a mass shooting. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre held a defiant press conference a week after a gunman slaughtered children at Sandy Hook Elementary. He declared: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
The flaw in this plan is how do you know who's the good guy with the death machine? Supposed good guys with guns have almost shot other good guys with guns at the sight of active shootings. It's very hard to tell the "good guys" and "bad guys" apart, probably because no one agrees on who's wearing the white or black hat.
As Jamie Lynn and I discussed this weekend, the defense wants Kyle Rittenhouse to receive the same legal grace as a police officer, whose job requires that they get involved in potentially life or death situations. Cops don't have the option of staying home when there's public unrest. However, it's strongly recommended that minor teens do so. They certainly shouldn't travel out of state and patrol the streets with a gun they aren't legally allowed to possess. The two deaths and a maiming (an awful movie) are the direct result of Rittenhouse's deliberate and illegal actions.
New legal doctrine in the Rittenhouse trial. If you just start shooting people you may be guilty of the first homicide. But since people freak out that you just shot someone you may feel threatened. So the subsequent homicides are thrown in as freebies or like a volume discount.— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall) 1636469440
New legal doctrine in the Rittenhouse trial. If you just start shooting people you may be guilty of the first homicide. But since people freak out that you just shot someone you may feel threatened. So the subsequent homicides are thrown in as freebies or like a volume discount.
Grosskreutz disputed the defense's claim that he chased Rittenhouse. He did reach for Rittenhouse's AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle just before the killer shot him in the arm. I think it's reasonable to disarm a teenager who's already shot two people, but that's probably why I've never made it onto a jury.
Unlike Rittenhouse, Grosskreutz actually went to the protests to help the situation. He'd organized a medical corps with a friend to provide assistance to people during demonstrations in Milwaukee after George Floyd's murder, and he'd traveled to Kenosha on August 25 to offer his services to protesters after Jacob Blake was shot and paralyzed. When he encountered Kyle Rittenhouse that night, he was wearing a hat with “paramedic" printed on it. The defense wants the jury to believe that Rittenhouse was the one who should've feared for his life.
There's no evidence that Grosskreutz was a “rioter" or a “looter," so the defense will have to find another way of smearing him.
"I thought that the defendant was an active shooter," [Grosskreutz] said. "Anytime you add a firearm into the equation the stakes are so much higher and a person could be in danger and killed."
As he ran down the street, Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the pavement. While the teen was on the ground, 26-year-old Anthony Huber hit him with his skateboard and Rittenhouse fired a fatal bullet into his chest.
At one point in his testimony, Grosskreutz accused Rittenhouse of "murdering" Huber, and the judge instructed the jury to disregard the comment. At least one juror nodded.
There's video of Grosskreutz approaching Rittenhouse with a cellphone in one hand and his pistol in the other. He said he was trying to “surrender," but Rittenhouse "turned his rifle over as if to examine it, a move Grosskreutz said he took to mean the teen would load the next bullet into the chamber." Grosskreutz assumed that Rittenhouse wasn't accepting his surrender. Although he was prepared to fire if necessary, it's not what he wanted.
"It's not the kind of person I am," Grosskreutz said. "It's not why I was out there. It's not why I was out there for 75 days prior to that. Why I, up until that time, spent my time, money, my education providing care for people. It's not who I am. And definitely not somebody that I would want to become."
On the video, Grosskreutz then took a step forward, his left arm stretched out and the hand holding the gun pulled back. Rittenhouse fired a bullet into his arm and "vaporized" his right bicep, the witness testified.
His upper arm “shredded," Grosskreutz screamed in agony and called for help. While he's certainly luckier than Rittenhouse's other victims, after several surgeries, he still has no sensation below his right elbow. He's only 28.
It's hard to imagine that anyone believes this testimony is exculpatory but we live in strange times.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."