"A citizen in that position, given those indicators, would it be reasonable for them to believe they were about to be assaulted?" expert John Black said Tuesday during a pretrial hearing Tuesday. "I would argue yes."
Black spent hours outlining the events leading up to Rittenhouse's decisions to shoot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz on Aug. 25, 2020. Rosenbaum and Huber died as a result, and Grosskreutz was wounded.
Black testified that video shows Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and reached for the teenager's gun, Huber attacked Rittenhouse with a skateboard and tried to wrestle away his gun, and Grosskreutz ran at him with a pistol in his hand.
Rittenhouse is set to stand trial beginning Nov. 1 on multiple counts, including homicide. The 18-year-old argues he opened fire in self-defense after men attacked him during a riot following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Black added in his testimony that he has extensively studied bystander video of the shootings, and noted that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse, threw a plastic bag at him, and reached for his gun.
"Now the firearm is a potential weapon for both parties," Black said. "Now we have a potential wrestling match."
After shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse ran down the street, according to bystander video. He stumbled at one point and another man came from the crowd and kicked Rittenhouse in the face, Black said. Rittenhouse also fired at that man, but missed.
Huber then hit Rittenhouse in the neck with a skateboard, and reached for Rittenhouse’s gun, Black said. Rittenhouse then shot him. Grosskreutz then approached with his hands up, but was also holding a gun in his right hand. Rittenhouse then shot him in the arm.
Black testified that Rittenhouse maintained control of his gun and was not aimlessly shooting at the crowd.
Rittenhouse’s lead attorney, Mark Richards, is trying to persuade Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to let Black testify at the trial in November. Schroeder is holding off on making a decision until he also hears testimony from a prosecution expert on use of force on Oct. 25.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, meanwhile, argued that Black is an expert in the use of force by police, not civilians. Black responded that he has taught civilian self-defense courses.
Binger also questioned whether Rittenhouse would have been justified in using lethal force if he hadn't had a gun. Black argued he was floating a hypothetical, but said if Rittenhouse hadn't been armed with a gun, he may not have been justified in using deadly force.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he traveled from his home in Antioch, Illinois, about 20 miles to Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, in response to a call on social media to protect businesses there.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.