An attorney for the city questioned why the victim is suing the Kenosha Police Department but not the shooter himself.
A man who was shot in the arm by Kyle Rittenhouse during a police brutality protest has filed a federal lawsuit against the Wisconsin city of Kenosha and its police department.
ABC News recalls how Rittenhouse, then 17 years old, shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber; he also struck plaintiff Gaige Grosskreutz, who was struck in the arm but survived.
While Rittenhouse and his supporters have claimed that the teenager was acting in self-defense, he is nonetheless facing multiple criminal charges, including homicide.
Rittenhouse, a resident of Antioch, Illinois, had purportedly traveled to Kenosha and joined a group of White supremacist militia members, who were “policing” the streets amidst Black Lives Matter protesters.
Although Rittenhouse and the militia members say they were there to “protect” businesses from looting and vandalization, the lawsuit—along with eyewitness accounts—suggest they were actively harassing and antagonizing Black Lives Matter protesters.
The lawsuit claims that the Kenosha Police Department knew that the militia was there to hurt people. It cites militia members’ social media posts, in which several made statements such as “Counter protest? Nah. I fully plan to kill looters and rioters tonight,” and, “Armed and ready. Shoot to kill tonight.”
However, Kenosha police gave the militias full freedom to operate in the city’s streets, with one officer even telling them, “We appreciate you guys.”
Later, law enforcement personnel purportedly “funneled” Black Lives Matter demonstrators toward the militia members, most of whom were armed with handguns and semi-automatic rifles.
The lawsuit notes that, even after Rittenhouse shot several protesters, police did not detain or disarm him—in fact, they did not even demand that he identify himself.
The complaint attributes law enforcement’s nonchalance to Rittenhouse’s race, saying the response would have been far different if he were Black.
“If a Black person had approached police with an assault rifle, offering to patrol the streets with the police, he most likely would have been shot dead,” the lawsuit said. “If a Black child had shot three citizens with an assault rifle and was seen walking away from the scene of the shooting with the assault rifle in hand, while other citizens yelled he was an active shooter, he would have been shot dead.”
The lawsuit alleges that the Kenosha Police Department and its leadership, as well as the local sheriff’s office, committed multiple constitutional offenses, including “conspiracy to obstruct justice, equal protection and free speech violations, and failure to intervene.”
The filing seeks unspecified damages.
Sam Hall, an attorney representing the Kenosha Police Department and Sheriff David Beth, said that the allegations are false and that the plaintiff’s lawyers made no mention of the fact that Grosskreutz was himself armed with a firearm when he was shot by Rittenhouse. He also observed that, while Grosskreutz is suing the city for his injuries, he has not filed a civil lawsuit against Rittenhouse.