An armed paramedic who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year testified Monday that he pulled out his own firearm because he believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter.
Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, testified that he unholstered his handgun on August 25, 2020, as he and a crowd followed Rittenhouse, who had just fatally shot another man. Rittenhouse fell to the ground, fired twice at an unknown person who tried to kick him and then fatally shot Anthony Huber, who hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard.
Grosskreutz, just feet away, put his hands in the air, videos show. He then saw Rittenhouse rerack his weapon — a motion that loads it for gunfire — and so moved to defend himself, he testified.
“Reracking the weapon in my mind meant that the defendant pulled the trigger while my hands were in the air, but the gun didn’t fire, so by reracking the weapon I inferred the defendant wasn’t accepting my surrender,” he testified.
Yet Grosskreutz didn’t — or couldn’t — pull the trigger, he said.
“I was never trying to kill the defendant. In that moment I was trying to preserve my own life, but doing so while taking the life of another is not something I am capable or comfortable doing.”
“That’s not the kind of person I am,” he added, citing his medical training.
The testimony, delivered as prosecutors played videos of Grosskreutz’s movements that night in August 2020, came at the start of the second week of trial for Rittenhouse, who fired an AR-15-style weapon eight times amid protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, fatally shot an unarmed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, in a parking lot and then tried to flee. A crowd followed his movements and Rittenhouse then shot twice at an unarmed unknown individual, fatally shot an unarmed Anthony Huber, 26, and shot Grosskreutz in the arm.
Now 18, Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide — the latter of which for wounding Grosskreutz.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his defense attorney Mark Richards said he fired only in self-defense. In opening statements, he described Rosenbaum as the aggressor in the initial incident and said Huber and Grosskreutz were part of an attacking “mob.”
The prosecution called 14 witnesses last week, including police, witnesses and armed men out in Kenosha that night.
Grosskreutz’s concealed carry license had expired
Grosskreutz testified Monday that he was a trained paramedic and helped provide first aid at about 75 demonstrations during that summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Milwaukee.
He traveled to Kenosha on August 25, 2020, by himself because he felt his medical experience and knowledge would be helpful. He wore a hat reading “paramedic” and brought medical supplies and his firearm, which he said he carried with him every day. He admitted his concealed carry license had expired and he had not renewed it.
Grosskreutz said he treated about 10 people that night, including one who had a serious cut after being hit by a rubber bullet.
At one point that night, he heard gunshots, ran toward the origin and came upon Rittenhouse, who was running down the street. “What are you doing? You shot somebody? Who’s shot?” Grosskreutz asked, video shows. Rittenhouse responded, “I’m going to the police,” the video shows, but at the time Grosskreutz believed he had said “I’m working with the police.”
Coupled with an earlier interaction with another armed man, Grosskreutz thought the comment was odd and noteworthy. He faded back a bit but continued to follow Rittenhouse down the street.
“Further inferencing from the things I had heard, experienced and witnessed earlier in the night, I thought the defendant was an active shooter,” he said.
During the ensuing confrontation, Rittenhouse shot Grosskreutz in the right bicep, he testified. He said he spent a week in the hospital and several months in physical therapy for his injury.
In cross-examination, Grosskreutz acknowledged he incorrectly told police last year that his firearm had fallen out of his pants that night and did not admit that he had a weapon at the time. He also said that he had only “minimal information” about Rittenhouse or his prior actions at the time of the shooting.
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