Republican Congressman for Kentucky Thomas Massie claims he would not convict Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse as he believes the teen showed incredible restraint with protesters and ‘didn’t empty a magazine into a crowd’.
In a radio interview with WVHU on Thursday, Massie said that the 17-year-old, who fatally shot two protesters and injured a third on August 25, was acting in self-defense and that video of the incident proves it.
Rittenhouse is charged with two counts of first-degree homicide and several other felony counts for the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber but his lawyers plan to argue he was protecting himself from protesters.
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Republican Congressman for Kentucky Thomas Massie, pictured, has defended teen Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, and even praised him for acting to stop lawlessness
Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha last week, and for wounding a third man
On Kyle Rittenhouse, “The strongest thing in his favor is actually the video of the event…the video of him running down the street and falling. He was fulfilling his obligation to retreat…he fell down…he responded in self defense…I would not convict,” Rep. Thomas Massie. pic.twitter.com/K8STedCJnh
— Eva McKend (@evamckend) September 3, 2020
The teenager has become a focus point of the debates over the recent protests and unrest as some regard him as a domestic terrorist, while others see him as a hero who took up arms to help people who were left unprotected.
Rittenhouse, a self-described militia member, had traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois after days of unrest in the city following video that went public of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer.
‘He also exhibited incredible restraint and presence and situational awareness,’ Massie said of his actions. ‘He didn’t empty a magazine into a crowd.’
‘There were people around him who could have caused him harm but as soon as they showed any sign of retreat of non-aggression, he did not shoot them. He exhibited more restraint than a lot of the police videos that I have seen.’
‘I think the strongest thing he has for him is the actual video evidence,’ Massie continued.
‘And if I were on a jury and all I had was the evidence that I have been able to acquire through social media and the videos that are out there, I would not convict him of a single one of these charges.’
Massie added that he believed the video of Rittenhouse shooting the final two individuals showed him ‘fulfilling his obligation to retreat’ after his first fatal shooting of Rosenbaum before ‘responding with self defense’ when he fell.
‘Probably a lot of people are going to get upset that I’m even trying to educate people on this,’ he said of Rittenhouse not being convicted.
‘If you think that its an unjust application of law, or that the law is unjust, this is why we have juries.
The congressman also praised the teen for taking it upon himself to act when protests in Kenosha turned violent.
‘What does it say about our country where this lawlessness is going on to this extent that a 17-year-old feels compelled to stop it?’ Massie asked.
‘To be the one to turn the tide? I think it says a lot for the 17-year-old.’
Massie repeated his defense of Rittenhouse on Twitter on Thursday
His comments were slammed by Democrats in Kentucky
His opponent in the November election, Alexandra Owensby, condemned the praise
He repeated his comments in a tweet later that day, stating: ‘True. If I were on a jury, I would NOT vote to convict Kyle Rittenhouse of any of the charges against him.’
Massie was criticized by Kentucky Democrats for the praise, which they branded ‘unbelievable’.
‘Thomas Massie defends accused Kenosha murderer Kyle Rittenhouse. The @kygop @Team_Mitch and other Kentucky Republicans need to disavow Massie’s comments immediately,’ they wrote.
His Democratic rival in the November election, Alexandra Owensby, also tweeted her disgust saying that Massie’s words were ‘dangerous & encouraging youth to be vigilantes & mass murderers’.
She later released a statement saying that she disagreed with the rioters vandalizing businesses, ‘this in no way justifies youth vigilantes traveling across state lines, illegally arming themselves with assault rifles, and shooting protesters in the back’.
‘I hope and pray no parent finds out their child became a mass murderer overnight,’ she said.
Yet Massie’s words echo those of other top conservatives with President Trump refusing to condemn Rittenhouse’s actions.
Rittenhouse, pictured, has been praised by some for protecting businesses with his actions
Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed the teen was ‘maintaining order when no one else would’.
‘Are we really surprised this looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would? Everyone can see what was happening in Kenosha,’ he said.
On Monday, President Trump also defended him, claiming the 17-year-old ‘probably would have been killed’ by an angry mob if he hadn’t fired at them with the illegal gun he was carrying.
‘He was trying to get away from them I guess, it looks like, and he fell on then they very violently attacked him,’ Trump said.
And in Kenosha itself, the GOP chairwoman claimed that 80 percent of people support Rittenhouse, and that the other 20 percent are people who ‘can’t stand the president’.
Rittenhouse is currently being detained in his home state of Illinois while he awaits extradition.
He handed himself in to police after he shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum while with an armed militia group who claimed they were seeking to protect businesses from looters.
Rittenhouse then ran from the scene of the shooting but was chased by a group of demonstrators and stumbled.
In a video from the night, a second protester, 26-year-old Anthony Huber is seen swinging a skateboard at the teen, before Rittenhouse fatally shoots him in the chest.
The two men who were killed were Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, (left) and Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, (right) about 15 miles west of the city. A third person was also injured
In a video from the night, protester, 26-year-old Anthony Huber is seen swinging a skateboard at the teen, before Rittenhouse fatally shoots him in the chest
A third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, approached the teen and was shot in the arm. Images show that Grosskreutz was holding a handgun when he was shot.
One of his lawyers, John Pierce, has praised the teenager for his actions and argued that he was only defending himself against a ‘relentless’ mob trying to disarm and hurt him.
‘This is 100 percent self defense,’ Pierce told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.
‘The only individuals Kyle shot were the three individuals attacking him and putting him at risk. This is a 17-year-old kid, this is amazing what he did.’
In addition to his AR-15-style rifle, Rittenhouse’s lawyer said the teenager also had had a first aid kit with him to help treat injured protesters.
Pierce said the incident escalated when a shot was fired as Rittenhouse tried to retreat from a group of protesters who, he claims, became enraged that the teen was trying to put out fires.
‘They began screaming that Kyle needed to be killed and they were going to kill him. They started relentlessly hunting him as prey as he ran down the street attempting to retreat,’ Pierce said.
‘Mr Rosenbaum, who was leading the attack on him, set upon him immediately… began to assault him from behind, attempted to take his weapon, take his firearm, and Kyle, when he turned, he instantaneously had no choice but to defend himself by firing because he was in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.’
Pierce also denied that Rittenhouse brought the AR-15 across state lines from Illinois to Wisconsin. He says the teen acquired it from a friend in the state.
‘That firearm never crossed state lines. It is a legal firearm in Wisconsin,’ Pierce said, adding they would be arguing it is within his Second Amendment rights.