Man killed by Rittenhouse challenged group to shoot him, used racial slur – witness

By Nathan Layne

KENOSHA, Wis. (Reuters) – A witness in the trial of U.S. teenager Kyle Rittenhouse said on Friday that one of the two protesters killed that night was acting aggressively and repeatedly challenged a group of armed men to shoot him, but that he did not consider the man a threat.

Prosecutors sought to use the testimony of Jason Lackowski, a former Marine who was among the armed men with Rittenhouse on the night of the shootings, that the first person the teen shot was not perceived as a threat to another armed man.

Rittenhouse, 18, has been charged in the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and for wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27, during a chaotic night on Aug. 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin during protests at the police shooting of a Black man.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty and says he acted in self defense.

In an incident separate from the shootings, Lackowski said that Rosenbaum had challenged him and other armed men close to him to shoot him and also “false-stepped” in their direction – a motion of stepping toward someone and then quickly stepping back.

“After he did that a few times I turned my back and ignored him,” Lackowski said, answering “no” to a question from Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger about whether he considered Rosenbaum a threat and confirming he was unarmed.

Lackowski said he was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, similar to the weapon Rittenhouse had that night. He said he, along with others, had come to Kenosha to protect a used car lot after rioting and arson in the city in previous nights.

Lackowski’s testimony came one day after two witness provided testimony that appeared to be supportive of Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims. On Thursday, one witness said Rosenbaum cursed and lunged for the defendant’s rifle before he fired and another witness said Rosenbaum had threatened to kill both Rittenhouse and him earlier in the night.

Under cross-examination, Lackowski acknowledged that unlike Rittenhouse he was not alone when he came into contact with Rosenbaum and that his calculation of the potential threat could have changed if Rosenbaum had threatened his life.

Lackowski also said Rosenbaum was using “the N-word” while asking people to shoot him, utterances that prompted other protesters to react negatively towards him. The protests had been sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, on Aug. 23, 2020. Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Corey Chirafisi, an attorney for Rittenhouse, pointed out the context in which Rosenbaum allegedly used a racial slur.

“He’s saying this at a protest for an African-American man who was shot by police.”

(reporting by Nathan Layne in Kenosha, Wisconsin; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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