Judge rules men shot by Rittenhouse can be described as 'rioters' and 'looters'

A judge ruled Monday that lawyers for Kyle Rittenhouse could refer to the men he is charged with shooting as “rioters” and “looters,” but that prosecutors were not allowed to call them "victims."

Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder warned Rittenhouse's defense against using the terms in opening statements, but said they could be used to describe the men in closing arguments if there was evidence to suggest they were engaging in criminal activity, The Chicago Tribune reported.

“He can demonize them if he wants, if he thinks it will win points with the jury,” Schroeder said, according to the Tribune. 

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Schroeder had earlier ruled that the men could not be referred to as victims, because doing so would be prejudicial to Rittenhouse. The Tribune noted that these sorts of rulings are not uncommon in self-defense cases.

“The word victim is a loaded, loaded word,” the judge said.

Prosecutors were frustrated by Schroeder's decision, arguing that he was creating a double standard by allowing Rittenhouse's attorneys to disparage the men he allegedly killed, while not allowing them to be defended.

“The terms that I’m identifying here such as rioter, looter and arsonist are as loaded, if not more loaded, than the term victim,” assistant district attorney Thomas Binger said, the Tribune reported.

Rittenhouse was arrested last August at the age of 17 after police say he fatally shot two men and injured another during a demonstration in Kenosha, Wis., to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional reckless homicide.

In January, Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, claiming to have acted in self defense.

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Earlier in October, the only survivor from the shooting in Kenosha filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Kenosha, Kenosha County and Kenosha police, alleging that Rittenhouse's actions were enabled by law enforcement.

"It was not a mistake that Kyle Rittenhouse would kill two people and maim a third on that evening. It was a natural consequence of the actions of the Kenosha Police Department (KPD) and Kenosha Sheriff's Department (KCSD) in deputizing a roving militia to 'protect property' and 'assist in maintaining order,' " the lawsuit filed by Gaige Grosskreutz read.

The family of one of the victims of Rittenhouse's shooting, Anthony Huber, has also filed a lawsuit against Kenosha, alleging that law enforcement "conspired" with armed individuals like Rittenhouse.