A man shot and seriously wounded by Kyle Rittenhouse in Wisconsin last year recounted terrifying moments leading up to the near-fatal interaction, telling jurors Monday that he thought he "was going to die."
The man, Gaige Grosskreutz, a licensed paramedic from suburban Milwaukee, said he went to Kenosha in hope of treating anyone hurt during the protests on Aug. 25, 2020, over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Grosskreutz, 27, told jurors that he had his own Glock pistol in one hand and a cellphone in the other when he approached Rittenhouse, who was armed with an AR-15-style weapon.
His arms were raised shortly before Rittenhouse shot him in the right biceps. Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger asked Grosskreutz why he didn't shoot first.
“That’s not the kind of person that I am. That’s not why I was out there," Grosskreutz said. "That's not why I spent, up until that point, my time, my money, my education, providing care for people. That's not who I am. That's definitely not somebody I would want to become."
He added that he "tried to attempt a nonlethal way to end that interaction.”
Prosecutors want to show that Rittenhouse had no justification for gunning down Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and shooting Grosskreutz.
Video of the scene showed Grosskreutz just a few feet away from Huber when he was shot.
Grosskreutz said that after the “murdering” of Huber, “I was very close to the defendant, and I thought there was a high likelihood that I would be shot myself."
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder told jurors to disregard Grosskreutz’s use of the word "murdering." Schroeder had already barred lawyers from referring to any of the people Rittenhouse shot as "victims."
Under cross-examination Monday, defense lawyer Corey Chirafisi accused Grosskreutz of downplaying, in early police interviews, the fact that he was armed the moment Rittenhouse shot him.
“You omitted the fact that you ran up on him and had a Glock pistol in your hand. You left that out?” Chirafisi asked.
"Correct," Grosskreutz replied, saying the interview happened while he was on medication just after surgery. "After the defendant had shot me, I had just gotten out of surgery when the Kenosha police officers had arrived. I had just gone through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life."
The defense also brought up Grosskreutz's lawsuit against Wisconsin authorities, implying that it would be helped by a criminal conviction of Rittenhouse.
Binger and Chirafisi used videos and still images, sparring over where Grosskreutz's hands were positioned at the moment Rittenhouse opened fire.
Binger directed Grosskreutz out of the witness chair and had him demonstrate to jurors how he approached Rittenhouse. Grosskreutz said he wasn’t holding his gun in a position to fire.
"Is that the way you hold and point a gun when you're going to shoot it?" Binger asked.
"No," Grosskreutz said.
The unrest in Kenosha drew Rittenhouse, then 17, across state lines, where he is alleged to have taken the AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle to protests.
Kenosha is about 20 miles northeast of Rittenhouse's home in Antioch, Illinois, and 40 miles south of Milwaukee.