A juror in the Kyle Rittenhouse double-killing case has been dismissed for making a joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man. The police shooting, which left Blake partially paralyzed, set off a series of protests against police brutality that culminated in Rittenhouse shooting and killing two men.
On Thursday morning, Judge Bruce Schroeder called a juror down to the courtroom before the official start of the court session. Schroeder said that the reason he called him down was that he heard from a court security officer that the juror ”began to tell a joke about the shooting of Jacob Blake” while the jury was being escorted from the building the day before.
Schroeder asked the juror, a retired white man, to repeat the joke, but the man said he didn’t feel comfortable.
“I’ve talked quite a bit about public confidence in the outcome of the trial… it’s clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case,” said Schroeder.
The juror was dismissed, and neither the prosecutor nor the defense objected. The defense said that “based on the unwillingness” of the juror to retell the joke, dismissal is the “proper course.” The juror pushed back on the decision, saying, “My feeling is it had nothing to do with the case and it had nothing to do with Kyle.”
Rittenhouse, 18, has been charged with one count of first-degree reckless homicide, one count of first-degree intentional homicide, and one count of first-degree attempted intentional homicide, along with several lesser charges.
Prosecutors have painted Rittenhouse as an outside agitator and noted out of all the protesters in the Kenosha rallies, he is the only person to have killed anyone. The high-profile trial began earlier this week.
During Wednesday’s court session, Schroeder went off on an aside about the importance of this court being seen as impartial as it has been described as “the most divisive trial in the country.”
“Anything that undermines public confidence in what happens here is very important,” Schroeder said. “It’s important for this town. It’s important for this country to have people have confidence in the result of this trial. Whatever it is—and I don’t care what it is—but people have to be confident.”
After the dismissal of the juror, the trial carried on as expected.
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