The parents of a man gunned down by teen shooter Kyle Rittenhouse during a Kenosha, Wis., protest over the police shooting of a Black man are suing city and county law enforcement agencies for letting armed citizens “mete out punishment as they saw fit.”
The federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee by the parents of Anthony Huber, 26, seeks unspecified damages against Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, Daniel Miskinis, the former City of Kenosha police chief, and Eric Larsen, the city’s acting police chief, as well as unnamed officers and deputies, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Rittenhouse, then 17, traveled to Kenosha from his former home in Antioch, Ill., Aug. 25, 2020, and joined other armed people who clashed with demonstrators protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed from the waist down.
Prosecutors said Rittenhouse, armed with an assault-style rifle, opened fire on Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Huber, killing both. A third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, was shot in the arm.
John Huber and Karen Bloom maintain their son is a hero who sacrificed his life to protect others, the Tribune reported. Authorities say Huber was trying to disarm Rittenhouse shortly after the teen fatally shot Rosenbaum, the news outlet reported.
“At the end of the day, (police) basically decided to turn the streets over to a bunch of armed vigilantes,” Chicago lawyer Anand Swaminathan, who filed the federal lawsuit, told the Tribune.
In a statement from Huber’s parents, John Huber stated: “The police are supposed to serve and protect but that’s not what the Kenosha police did. They walked away from their duties and turned over the streets of Kenosha to Kyle Rittenhouse and other armed vigilantes. If they had done their job, my son would still be alive today.”
Authorities had advanced warning of the counter protesters’ plans, the lawsuit said, the Tribune reported, noting a local militia group had put out a call on social media that day to armed followers to come to the city and help protect businesses.
The lawsuit also quotes a Kenosha police sergeant’s words in the department’s internal messaging system just before 10 p.m. Aug. 25 that downplayed the threat posed by the armed citizens, whom he described as “very friendly," the Tribune reported.
About a half hour later, law enforcement officers were seen in widely distributed video footage offering water to Rittenhouse and his group and thanking them, with one officer stating, “We appreciate you guys. We really do,” the lawsuit stated.
Rittenhouse has been charged with intentional homicide. Lawyers for Rittenhouse maintain he shot all the men in self-defense.
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