Former assistant manager acquitted in Kenosha case of man fatally shot by gun he kept close to his body

A Milwaukee-area juror acquitted former assistant manager Kyle Rittenhouse in an involuntary manslaughter trial for the fatal shooting of Kenosha resident Jacob Eastman, who was fatally shot on Oct. 25, 2015. The shooting happened after Rittenhouse got into an argument with Eastman’s friend, David Tschapa.

Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter. Police arrested Rittenhouse and charged him with two counts of second-degree reckless homicide for the shootings, saying he was alone with Eastman and Tschapa when he fired the gun, according to a statement from the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office.

Tschapa has claimed Rittenhouse shot Eastman after Eastman pushed Rittenhouse against a wall and pushed back. Eastman had assaulted Tschapa while Rittenhouse was acting as Tschapa’s advocate. He said Rittenhouse shot Eastman because Eastman was holding the gun out to him and threatening to kill him.

Two police dash cam videos, one showing Rittenhouse pushing Tschapa, the other showing Eastman holding the gun out to him and threatening to kill him, give a different version of the shooting. Rittenhouse claimed he was threatened and shot because Eastman was holding the gun out to him and threatening to kill him.

The defense maintained that there was no physical evidence to support Tschapa’s claims. Rittenhouse had no witnesses and had provided no motive to shoot Eastman.

Rittenhouse asked the jury to be impartial because, he said, he feared for his life and his right to defend himself, according to a statement released by his defense attorney, Waukesha County Public Defender Aaron Gordon.

“This has been a horrible experience and I remain terribly frustrated. My family and I do not deserve to be treated this way,” Rittenhouse said in the statement. “These are not the actions that I take as a responsible law-abiding citizen. I wish justice could have been served.”

Kenosha Police Department saw an increased number of calls in the past two years over police shootings involving suspects in black and brown ethnicity. Gordon says he’s received death threats because of his clients’ cases.

The local ABC station KTMJ reported that more than 1,000 people crowded into a Kenosha community center to watch the jury’s decision. Hundreds more gathered at the Rittenhouse’s house. Dozens of members of Rittenhouse’s family attended the trial.

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