Juror Dismissed in Rittenhouse Trial for Joke About Jacob Blake Shooting

Juror Dismissed in Rittenhouse Trial for Joke About Jacob Blake Shooting kyle rittenhouse headshot in profile bites his cheek Kyle Rittenhouse, left, bites his cheek as he waits with his attorneys for his trial to resume Thursday. (Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

Nathan Layne Thursday, 04 November 2021 12:36 PM

The judge in the trial of teenager Kyle Rittenhouse dismissed a juror on Thursday because he told a joke about the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man whose shooting by a police officer sparked protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.

"The public needs to be confident that this is a fair trial," Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder told the juror, a white man who declined to repeat the joke he told to a sheriff's deputy outside the courtroom earlier in the week.

Rittenhouse is on trial for shooting dead two protesters and seriously wounding a third amid the chaos that erupted in Kenosha after Blake's shooting. Rittenhouse, now 18, says he acted in self defense.

Schroeder questioned the juror, a middle-aged man who appeared ill at ease as he spoke through a face mask.

"It had nothing to do with the case," the man told the judge about the joke.

Schroeder said he had no choice but to remove him from the jury and the man left the courtroom.

Blake was shot several times in the back and left paralyzed from the waist down in the shooting. Prosecutors cleared the police officer of any wrongdoing, saying he acted in self defense. Blake has sued him.

The protests erupted after a cellphone video showed Blake walking around the front of his car with the police officer following and opening fire after Blake opened the door.

Investigators said the video was incomplete and failed to show that Blake was armed with a knife and had resisted arrest.