A juror in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse was dismissed early Thursday for making a joke about the shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The juror, identified only as Juror No. 7, was being escorted to his car when he made comments to a court security officer about the number of times a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake on Aug. 23, 2020. Blake was left partially paralyzed by the shooting.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger said that the comment demonstrated racial bias and the state asked that the juror be excused.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder called the juror to the courtroom at the start of Thursday’s proceedings to discuss the comment.
“I wanted to see if that was accurate or not,” the judge told the juror, and asked if he wanted to repeat or discuss the remark further.
The juror acknowledged that he had made the comment, but declined to repeat it.
“My feeling is, it was nothing to do with the case. It wasn’t anything to do with Kyle and his seven charges,” the juror said, without repeating his original comments.
Before dismissing the juror, Schroeder said it was “clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.”
“Even at the most, it was bad judgment to tell a joke of that nature,” he said. Schroeder said the public needs to be confident the trial is fair.
Some family members of Blake's, who were outside the courtroom on Thursday, said they agreed with the judge's decision to dismiss the juror and take issue with how quickly the jury was selected.
“It’s unconscionable that the jury was picked in one day. This clearly shows there was a flaw in that, trying to be in such a rush,” said Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, who was speaking on behalf of the family.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with reckless homicide, intentional homicide and attempted intentional homicide after he fatally shot two people and injured another during protests in Kenosha after Blake’s shooting. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time.
Twenty people were selected Monday to serve as jurors in the case.
During opening statements Tuesday, Binger told the jury that Rittenhouse had no reason to kill Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, saying he was “drawn to the chaos” of protests in Kenosha.
Defense lawyer Mark Richards told jurors that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, believing that the men he shot were going to harm him.