Gaige Grosskreutz recounts his story for jury

November 9, 2021
Gaige Grosskreutz talks about the lasting damage to his arm after being shot by Kyle Rittenhouse as he testifies at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Wisconsin on Monday.
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KENOSHA, Wis. — Gaige Grosskreutz testified Monday he always carried a gun for protection, but that he couldn’t pull the trigger when it might have saved him from being shot by Kyle Rittenhouse.

Grosskreutz, 28, said he had just seen Rittenhouse fire twice at a man who tried to kick him and once fatally into the chest of a man who came at him with a skateboard, before pointing his AR-15-style rifle at him from 5 feet away.

He put his hands up and “thought I was going to die,” Grosskreutz told jurors at Rittenhouse’s trial for shooting him and killing two other men during chaotic protesting last summer in this Wisconsin city.

But the rifle jammed, Grosskreutz said. And as Rittenhouse racked the rifle firearm, Grosskreutz decided to try to throw himself at Rittenhouse, even though Grosskreutz was holding his own loaded Glock handgun.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger asked why he didn’t shoot instead.

“It’s not the kind of person I am,” Grosskreutz said. “Not the kind of person I want to become.”

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But before he could get to Rittenhouse, he had cleared the jam and fired at Grosskreutz, blasting apart his right bicep near his elbow. Grosskreutz retreated, holding his wounded arm and screaming for help.

The gun would factor prominently in his testimony.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Corey Chirafisi brought up his initial statement to police. In it, Grosskreutz said his gun had fallen from his waist, where it was clipped, while he was running. He never mentioned he was holding the loaded Glock in his right hand when Rittenhouse shot him.

A still photo from one of the many videos shot that night, shows Grosskreutz drawing the weapon from the small of his back while he’s still more than 30 feet behind Rittenhouse, who ran after having shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, minutes earlier at a car lot at 63rd Street.

There was also much back and forth about whether Grosskreutz pointed the gun at Rittenhouse. He said no, at least not intentionally, and stood before the jury trying to demonstrate how he said he turned his body edgewise toward Rittenhouse as he sat on the ground with his rifle.

During the demonstration, Grosskreutz held a water bottle in his left hand, where his cellphone was, and a portable microphone stood in for the gun in his right. He held the mic up near his ear.

“Is that how you’d hold a firearm if you were going to shoot it?” Binger asked. He said no.

Chirafisi countered with a photo of Grosskreutz just as the bullet hit his arm. It’s lower, and the gun is more oriented toward Rittenhouse, though not directly aimed in an outstretched arm.

Kyle Rittenhouse will argue self-defense:Experts say proving the argument to a jury isn’t easy.

“It wasn’t until you pointed and advanced that (Rittenhouse) fired, right?” Chirafisi asked. Grosskreutz agreed.

Chirafisi also asked Grosskreutz if, in the days after the shooting, he had told his roommate his only regret was not firing his whole clip at Rittenhouse. The witness denied the statement, which his roommate had posted on social media last year.

The defense also brought up the fact Grosskreutz has filed a $10 million notice of claim and a federal lawsuit against Kenosha officials, which doesn’t mention he had a gun. Grosskreutz also admitted that on his lawyer’s advice, he declined to answer detectives’ questions about the shooting.

Grosskreutz said he had come alone to Kenosha that night, to provide assistance to demonstrators. A trained paramedic, he said he had been going to protests to do so all summer.

He said he had helped some people clear their eyes of tear gas at the edge of Civic Center Park before police began moving the crowd south. He recalled seeing Rittenhouse and other armed men at a Car Source garage at 59th Street and Sheridan Road.

Later, he commented on his own Facebook Live video feed as the men crossed 60th Street, referring to them as Boogalo Bois, and yelling, “We’ve got our own medics. You can go home, you (expletive) stupid (expletive)” as Rittenhouse wandered about offering medical assistance.

Binger asked him why he said that.

“My interpretation the whole night was they all had an ominous appearance, these groups weren’t perceived as friendly towards other demonstrators,” Grosskreutz said. “And the defendant specifically lacked knowledge and experience to adequately fulfill his self-proclaimed role as a medic.”

Grosskreutz said his role as a medic led him to run toward the gunshots he’d later learn were Rittenhouse shooting Rosenbaum. He saw Rittenhouse running away from the sounds and heard others yelling at him. He approached, while taking video, and said, “Hey, what’s going on? Did you shoot somebody? Who’s shot? Who’s shot?”

He said he mistakenly thought Rittenhouse said, “I’m working with the police. I didn’t do anything,” but now knows he only said he was going to police and didn’t do anything. 

When he saw the growing crowd angrily following Rittenhouse, he said, he decided he might be needed in that direction, despite screams for a medic near the earlier gunshots.

At that point, Grosskreutz said he thought Rittenhouse was an “active shooter” and may also be in danger himself.

He said he spent a week in hospital after surgery to his arm and months in physical therapy, but still lacks strength in his right arm because of the lost muscle tissue. He said he has no feeling in most of his forearm and thumb.

Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.

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