KENOSHA, Wisc. — On day four of the homicide trial for Kyle Rittenhouse, the judge dismissed a male juror who made a joke to a sheriff’s deputy about the police shooting of Jacob Blake and the number of times he was shot.
A Kenosha police officer shot Blake seven times in August 2020, which left him paralyzed. The shooting was captured on video that sparked protests and led to the deaths of the two men, whom Rittenhouse is charged with killing. Rittenhouse also wounded a third person during those protests last year.
In addition to counts of intentional, reckless and attempted homicide, and reckless endangerment, and curfew violation, Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with possessing a firearm as a minor, a misdemeanor .His lawyers say Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.
On Thursday when Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder brought the juror to the courtroom to ask him about the joke, the man would not repeat it but said he didn’t think it had “anything to do with” Rittenhouse’s trial.
Schroeder has talked repeatedly about the importance that the public perceives the trial as fair.
“It’s clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case,” he said.
At the very least, Schroeder said, “it was bad judgment to tell a joke of that nature.” The juror made the comments Wednesday and Schroeder had said he’d consider it the next morning.
With the juror’s dismissal, 19 jurors remain. Only 12 will deliberate.
Testimony for Rittenhouse’s trial first began Tuesday after jurors were selected after a long day of strikes on potential panel members that went into Monday night.
On Wednesday, jurors watched more than a dozen videos of a four-block stretch of Sheridan Road recorded on the night of the shooting. Jurors also heard from Koerrie Washington, a lifelong Kenosha resident and social media influencer who livestreamed hours of the unrest.
Meanwhile Thursday morning, questioning continued of Martin Howard, a Kenosha police detective who is a lead investigator on the case. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have focused heavily on the videos from bystanders as they have questioned Howard.
Judge Schroeder is also presiding over the case of Dominick Black, who is charged with providing Rittenhouse his rifle.
More on the Rittenhouse trial