Tear gas lands around protesters near the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, August 25, 2020. (Chris Juhn/Zuma Press/TNS)

Teen arrested after two shot dead in Kenosha during police brutality protests

Video of officers shooting man in back sparks angry reaction in Wisconsin city

An Illinois teen has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisc., that left at least two dead, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Ill., was charged, the newspaper reported.

The shooting took place amid early morning protests and unrest in the small Wisconsin city following the caught-on-video police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man.

Video posted to social media showed a chaotic scene on the streets of Kenosha late Tuesday and early Wednesday. A young man toting a rifle could be heard saying “I just killed somebody,” in one video.

Kenosha cops said they responded to a shooting with multiple victims about 11:45 p.m. local time on Tuesday night.

Police are probing whether the shooting came from a clash between protesters and armed men defending businesses, the New York Times reported.

Hundreds of protesters, enraged by yet another shooting of a Black man by police officers in yet another city, ignored a curfew order and kept demonstrating late into the night. Tear gas was deployed as crowds refused to disperse, and amid reports of objects being thrown at police officers.

As in some other cities that have seen Black Lives Matter protests and damage to local businesses, some protesters and several counterprotesters showed up armed with guns or knives, ready to defend themselves or adjacent property.

Police said in a statement they’re “aware” of videos surrounding the incident, as several graphic videos circulated widely on social media.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers had earlier declared a state of emergency after businesses were vandalized and dozens of buildings were set on fire in the city. Evers boosted to 250 the number of National Guard members providing support for Kenosha County law enforcement.

After being shot in the head, a protester was loaded into the back of an SUV and driven to a hospital. Three protesters were shot in a short span and two died from their injuries in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, August 25, 2020. (Chris Juhn/Zuma Press/TNS)

“We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue,” Evers said Tuesday. “We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.”

The campaign of Democratic nominee Joe Biden issued a similar statement Tuesday night. “Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response,” said senior adviser Symone Sanders. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.”

First Lady Melania Trump, in her keynote speech to the Republican National Convention from the White House Rose Garden, encouraged people “to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice, and never make assumptions based on the color of a person.”

Doctors operated Tuesday on Blake, who suffered a severed spinal cord, a shattered vertebra and damage to his stomach, kidney and liver, Blake’s lawyer Patrick Salvi said at a news conference at the Kenosha County Courthouse.

“It is going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr. to ever walk again,” Ben Crumb, another Blake lawyer, said, adding that the injuries were the result of the “brutal use of excessive force, once again, on an African-American.”

The lawyers said they planned to file a civil lawsuit seeking police accountability and the resources necessary for Blake’s medical recovery.

Salvi said an immediate task of the shooting victim’s legal team is gathering additional evidence about the incident, including the identity of the uniformed officer who shot Blake seven times.

Civil and criminal cases resulting from the shooting are likely, Salvi said. “I do think laws were violated. Whether you’re in uniform or not, the rule of law still applies,” he said.

Salvi said contact with law enforcement agencies has been limited. “I think what’s very concerning for us is whatever evidence they have, we need,” Salvi said. “They have not told us anything. We have made efforts to get in contact with Kenosha, but that has failed,” he said of the city’s law enforcement agency.

The shooting of Blake reignited the political debate over police violence and protests.

U.S. Representative Karen Bass, a Democrat and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, compared the police treatment of Blake and that of Dylann Roof, who killed nine people at a church in South Carolina.

Meanwhile Republican Karen Handel, who’s trying to win back the suburban Atlanta seat she lost to Representative Lucy McBath, launched a campaign ad trying to link her Democratic opponent to violent demonstrations.

Night two of the Republican convention opened with a prayer for “peace to come over the hurting communities in Wisconsin tonight,” as well as for healing to Blake and his family and protection for law enforcement patrolling the streets.

Yet the convention left little doubt which side the GOP was backing. “To the law enforcement officer who is being attacked, betrayed and whose job they are trying to make extinct – my father will fight for you,” Eric Trump said.

This story has been updated with additional information. Bloomberg News and the New York Daily News contributed to this report

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