A judge postponed a decision Friday on whether a 17-year-old should be returned to Wisconsin to face charges in the killing of two people on the streets of Kenosha during unrest following the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake.
The Illinois judge granted Kyle Rittenhouse’s request to delay the extradition hearing to Sept. 25 during a brief hearing that was streamed online. Rittenhouse, who is being held, did not appear.
Blake’s shooting — which left him paralyzed and was caught on cellphone video — sparked several nights of protests in Kenosha, making it the latest focal point in a reckoning over policing and racial injustice that has gripped the country since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The Wisconsin Senate will hold a special session Monday to address a package of police reform measures.
On Tuesday, the third night of those protests, Rittenhouse, a white teen who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, was caught on cellphone video as he walked Kenosha’s streets with other armed civilians, saying he was protecting businesses from vandalism. Prosecutors have accused him of killing two men who tried to disarm him and wounding a third. His lawyers have argued he was acting in self-defence.
Rittenhouse was taken into custody on Wednesday in his hometown of Antioch, Ill., about 25 kilometres from Kenosha. He would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree homicide, the most serious charge. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.
Assistant public defender Jennifer Snyder, who was representing Rittenhouse, asked for a delay in the extradition hearing, so her client would have time to hire a private attorney. She said Rittenhouse had spoken by phone with his mother since his arrest.
Lee Filas, spokesperson for the Lake County, Ill., state’s attorney, declined to comment on whether other charges were being considered for anyone who may have acted as an accomplice to Rittenhouse.
According to the criminal complaint, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, followed Rittenhouse into a used car lot, where he threw a plastic bag at the teen and attempted to take his weapon. The medical examiner found that Rosenbaum was shot in the groin, back and hand. He also suffered a superficial wound to his left thigh and a graze wound to his forehead.
Rittenhouse then ran down the street and was chased by several people who shouted that he had shot someone before he tripped and fell, according to the complaint and video footage. Anthony Huber, 26, was shot in the chest after apparently trying to wrest the gun from Rittenhouse, according to the complaint.