A juror was dismissed from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial on Thursday for making a crude joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the juror, an older white man, joked "why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?”
Though it is unclear whether the juror delivered his punch line, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said he understood the answer to be "because they ran out of bullets.”
Blake, 29, was shot by Officer Rusten Sheskey multiple times in August 2020, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Sheskey returned to duty in April and faced no charges for the shooting.
Blake's shooting sparked waves of protests in Wisconsin and the U.S. at large. It was at one such protest that Rittenhouse, 18, fatally shot two people and injured another.
The juror admitted to saying the joke, but refused to repeat it, the Tribune reported. He apparently claimed that Blake's injuries and Rittenhouse's shootings were unrelated.
“My feeling is it has nothing to do with the case,” the juror was quoted as saying by the Tribune. “It has nothing to do with Kyle and his seven charges.”
Prosecutors argued that the joke showed a racial bias and called it "tasteless." The Tribune noted that the defense opposed removing the juror, but did not fight against his dismissal.
Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder appeared to agree with the prosecutors' characterization.
“I’ve talked quite a bit about public confidence in the outcome of the trial,” said the judge. “It is clear that the appearance of bias is present, and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.”
Schroeder had said Monday that he hoped to complete the jury selection process in one day. Both sides of the case had requested that questionnaires be sent out to prospective jurors to root out biases in order to speed up the process, but Schroeder denied the request.
According to the Tribune, there are now eight men and 11 women left on the jury, 12 of whom will be charged with reaching a verdict in Rittenhouse's case.