Teen charged over fatal shootings amid racial equality protests in Kenosha

28 August 2020, 03:35

A demonstrator holds a makeshift shield during a march through the streets of Kenosha,
A demonstrator holds a makeshift shield during a march through the streets of Kenosha,. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A seventeen-year-old has been charged over the fatal shooting of two people and the wounding of a third amid protests against a police attack which left a black man with spinal injuries.

Demonstrations began in Kenosha, Wisconsin and were taken up by major sport leagues and prominent athletes across the US after Jacob Blake was shot in the back.

Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly went to Kenosha from nearby Antioch, Illinois and went on a shooting rampage. He faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of first-degree reckless homicide, one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.

Kenosha police have faced questions about their interactions with the gunman on Tuesday night. According to witness accounts and video footage, police apparently let Rittenhouse walk past them and leave the scene with a rifle over his shoulder and his hands in the air, as members of the crowd yelled for him to be arrested because he had shot people.

He would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, the most serious crime in Wisconsin.

Kenosha has become the latest focal point in the fight against racial injustice that has gripped the country since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The Wisconsin Justice Department said Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, shot Mr Blake while holding onto his shirt after officers first unsuccessfully used a Taser.

Mr Blake, 29, was shot in the back seven times as he leaned into his vehicle, three of his children seated inside.

Kenosha police have said little about what happened other than that they were responding to a domestic dispute.

NBA play-off teams are poised to discuss the competition's next steps after matches were postponed for a second successive day following protests against the incident and racial injustice.