KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS) — Gaige Grosskreutz, a man who was shot and injured by Kyle Rittenhouse during the civil unrest in Kenosha last summer, took the witness stand Monday at Rittenhouse’s trial, telling jurors he thought “I was going to die.”
Grosskreutz is the only one of three people shot by Rittenhouse who survived, and is a key witness for the prosecution.READ MORE: Cook County Surpasses 1,000 Homicides For First Time Since 1994
Jurors in Rittenhouse’s trial have been shown several clips of live streams from the night of the shooting, including the moments Rittenhouse shot Grosskreutz and Anthony Huber, just moments after he’d also shot Joseph Rosenbaum on Aug. 25, 2020. Unlike the shooting of Grosskreutz and Huber, Rosenbaum’s death was not caught on video.
Jurors were shown graphic evidence of Grosskreutz’s injuries as he took the stand to tell the jury what he was thinking in the moments leading up to the shooting. Grosskreutz, who was holding a handgun during his encounter with Rittenhouse, claims he pulled his weapon because he believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter.
Grosskreutz, a certified emergency medical technician, said while he didn’t see Rittenhouse kill Rosenbaum, he heard the gunshots, and ran towards them to try to help.
Pictures from earlier in the night showed Groskreutz assisting other injured protesters. Jurors saw video of an exchange he had with Rittenhouse, asking the teen who was carrying an AR-15 style rifle, “Hey, what are you doing? You shot somebody? Who is shot?”
“In the moment, I thought that the defendant was an active shooter,” Grosskreutz testified.
Grosskreutz had an expired concealed carry license. The gun was hidden in the waistband of his shorts. He said he grabbed it as others in the crowd chased after Rittenhouse
Grosskreutz acknowledged he was holding a handgun as he approached Rittenehouse, but said he and Huber were only trying to detain and disarm Rittenhouse, not to kill him.
“That’s not the kind of person that I am. That’s not why I was out there,” he said. “That’s not someone I am and not someone whom I’d want to become.”
When jurors were shown video of the moment Rittenhouse shot Huber, prosecutors asked Grosskreutz what was going through his mind.
“That I was going to die,” Grosskreutz said.
After Rittenhouse shot Huber in the chest, Grosskreutz can be seen in cell phone video putting his hands in the air—he said he believed Rittenhouse pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t fire. Grosskretuz said that’s when he tried closing the distance between himself and Rittenhouse
“In that moment I felt that I had to do something and prevent myself from being killed or being shot,” he testified.
Rittenhouse shot Grosskreutz in the arm, and Grosskreutz said he lost 90% of his bicep.
In court, the jury was shown very graphic images of Grosskreutz’s injury to his arm. At one point, the jury grimaced, and several jurors looked away.READ MORE: Chicago's Top Doctor 'Concerned' About COVID Variant Omicron, It Can Be Detected In The U.S. Within 'Days Or Weeks'
Attorneys for Rittenhouse got Grosskreutz to admit that several statements he made to police the night of the shooting contained errors, or omitted key facts – most notably that Grosskreutz pointed a gun at Rittenhouse.
“Would you think in a case where you are shot that providing the police information that you were actually possessing a firearm at the time would be relevant?” defense attorney Corey Chirafisi asked.
“I think that’s fair, yes,” Grosskreutz said.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have said he shot Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz in self-defense. In Grosskreutz’s case, they said he only fired when Grosskreutz lowered his gun in the teen’s direction.
“You are moving forward, and your right hand drops down, and gun is pointed in direction of Mr. Rittenhouse,” Chirafisi said. “It wasn’t until you advanced on him that he fired.”
“Correct,” Grosskreutz said.
Chirafisi also pointed to Grosskreutz’s lawsuit against the city of Kenosha, in which he alleges police enabled the violence by allowing an armed militia to have the run of the streets during the demonstration.
“If Mr. Rittenhouse is convicted, your chance of getting 10 million bucks is better, right?” Chirafisi said.
Rittenhouse, now 18, faces multiple felony charges, including intentional homicide, reckless homicide, reckless endangerment, and weapons violations.
The one-time police youth cadet from Antioch, Illinois, had gone to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from the damaging demonstrations that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.
At the defense table, Rittenhouse kept his eyes on Grosskreutz as he testified, taking detailed notes when the witness spoke about the moment he was shot.
Rittenhouse has said he was acting in self-defense when he shot Grosskreutz, Huber, and Rosenbaum, but prosecutors have argued it was Rittenhouse who instigated the violence that night in August 2020.
“We strongly believe that he should be found guilty on all counts, and that our client, Mr. Grosskreutz, told the world what happened – that Rittenhouse shot at him, it didn’t go, he re-racked, and then he fired at him again – and unfortunately, he shot him and nearly killed him,” said Grosskreutz’s attorney, Kimberly Motley.
Jurors have heard five days of testimony so far. The trial is expected to last two or three weeks.
The defense plans to call a use of force expert to testify on Rittenhouse’s behalf.MORE NEWS: 'Intoxiflation': Despite Higher Prices, Floridians Will Continue Buying Booze Over Holiday Season
Contributing: Associated Press