Kenosha police ‘deputized’ militia before deadly shootout, lawsuit says

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Kyle Rittenhouse listens during his preliminary hearing at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA on May 21, 2021. Sean Krajacic / Kenosha News / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

Oct. 15 (Reuters) – A man shot dead by American teenager Kyle Rittenhouse during racial justice protests in Wisconsin last year filed a lawsuit against local law enforcement whom he accuses of having replaced a “traveling militia” of white nationalists.

Gaige Grosskreutz filed a complaint in federal court on Thursday. He was one of three people shot dead by Rittenhouse, two of whom died. Rittenhouse is due to stand trial for manslaughter and attempted homicide next month in the August 2020 shooting in Kenosha.

“It was no mistake that Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people and maimed a third that night,” Grosskreutz’s trial said. “It was a natural consequence of the actions of the Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha Sheriff’s Office in delegating a roving militia to ‘protect property’ and ‘help maintain order. “”

Sam Hall, an attorney representing Kenosha County and Sheriff David Beth, said in an emailed statement that the allegations in the trial were false and that he would seek to have the complaint dismissed.

Grosskreutz’s lawsuit names the county and town of Kenosha, as well as the police and sheriff’s department and individual agents. Kenosha Town and the Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rittenhouse awaits trial in November on charges of intentional first degree homicide and reckless first degree homicide in the murders of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, and attempted first degree homicide and use of a dangerous weapon in the Grosskreutz shooting. Rittenhouse is also charged with weapons violations and other crimes during the protest.

In August, Huber’s family lodged a complaint similar to that of Grosskreutz, which claims that local law enforcement agents “and white nationalist militiamen discussed and coordinated a strategy.”

Grosskreutz’s trial said members of a militia known as the Kenosha Guard and others arrived at the protest at the invitation via Facebook of Kevin Mathewson, a former Kenosha city council member. He said they openly wielded weapons and threatened those participating in the protests to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

The trial said members of anonymous militias intended to kill protesters they said were rioting and looting.

He also quotes an email from Mathewson to the Chief of Police, who the lawsuit said said, “As you know I am the commander of the Kenosha Guard, a local militia” and that “we are let’s mobilize tonight and have about 3,000 RSVPs. “

Mathewson, who works as a private investigator, told Reuters Kenosha’s guard was in fact an “ad hoc” group of ordinary citizens, including black and Latino members, who had never met before the night of the shooting. from Rittenhouse and had never done any training.

Mathewson said the group had organized to protect their neighborhoods after racial justice protests held months before the Rittenhouse shooting resulted in the burning and looting of some local businesses. He rejected any idea that Kenosha’s guard was a white nationalist militia.

“It’s just not true, it’s a silly claim,” he said.

The lawsuit said social media posts made it clear that militia members were not present at the protest to protect local businesses or contracted for security by local stores.

Reporting by Brad Brooks, editing by Donna Bryson and Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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