Breaking Down The Videos Of The Two Shooting Incidents In Kenosha -- Self-Defense?

Twitter/Screenshot

The YouTube video below, which seems to be a capture of a more than five-hour-long “live blog,” shows the best vantage I’ve seen of the sequence of events leading up to the first shooting Wisconsin.

As is almost always the case, the “hot takes,” which hit Twitter in the first minutes after an incident such as this, are almost always wrong.

If the video isn’t qued up in the correct spot, advance the time stamp to 3:59.00.   Everything happens between 3:59.00 and 3:59.45.

 

Wisconsin is an “Open Carry” state.  You may lawfully carry both a handgun and a long-gun openly without a permit.  So the fact that the shooter is carrying a long-gun in public is not criminal activity on his part.

The first fact you see from the video is that the shooter was chased by the person he shot, and as they passed through the parking lot of the boarded-up gas station, the “victim” threw something at the shooter.  There are reports that the item thrown was an unlit “Molotov Cocktail,” but you can’t know for sure from the video.

It seems like the shooter points the rifle at the “victim” at that point but does not fire.  He instead turns to run again, and the “victim” continues to chase him.  At that point, you hear the gunfire start, but you can’t see what happens.  You hear a single shot, then four shots in rapid succession followed by three more shots in rapid succession.  It seems like there is only one firearm, but I can’t be certain from the audio.

Here is a video that supposedly shows the car lot being vandalized a few moments before the first shooting incident.

The shooter was apparently attempting to protect this business, and the “victim” was one of the individuals in this group damaging cars.  I have seen Twitter comments claiming that the “victim” and others were preparing to start lighting some of the cars on fire when the shooter stepped in to intervene.  What happened during that initial intervention is not recorded on video anywhere that I have found, but that confrontation ended with the “victim” chasing the shooter out of the car lot and down the street.  That is where the YouTube video at the top first captures the two, leading directly to the first shooting in the gas station parking lot where the “victim” was killed.

The nature of that first confrontation in the parking lot is important to the overall event.  If the shooter was threatened with violence, and then chased down the street to the gas station, he very likely has a strong case for self-defense.  The “victim” is the aggressor, and the nature of their initial confrontation will establish the extent to which the shooter can claim he feared serious injury or death if he had not defended himself in the way he did.  The actions of the “victim” in the car lot will also be significant.  If there is video of him engaging in violent acts of vandalism that the shooter observed, the case for self-defense improves as well.

Again, under Wisconsin law, the shooter had not committed any illegal act by being present on the streets of Kenosha carrying a loaded long-gun.  No criminality can be inferred from that action.  I read in a Twitter post that there are 600,000 deer hunting licenses issued in Wisconsin each year, and the presence of long-guns in communities all over the state is ubiquitous.

As for the second shooting episode, the shooter is clearly attempting to get away from the people who are pursuing him.  Who all those people were will be difficult to establish with certainty, but there are numerous videos with audio that captured what they were yelling.

This is the video that has been most widely circulated.

There seems to be little question about whether the shooter had anything to fear from those pursuing him.  One individual managed to catch up to him and appears to try to hit him in the back of the head with some object.  He evades that person and continues to run down the street, but then seems to stumble and fall.  You can clearly hear someone yell, “Get his ass” at that point.  The shooter gets himself into a seated position facing back at the people pursing him.  The closest pursuer manages to run over the top of him, with both of them going down, but the shooter maintaining possession of his long gun.  At that point, at least three different pursuers closed in on him from three different directions — all closing to within approximately 10 feet of him.   A second individual attempts to grab the long-gun away from the shooter, but he still has the shoulder strap around his body.

It is hard to tell from the video, but it seems like the second individual is shot as a result of the long-gun discharging while they both have their hands on it, with the muzzle pointed at the second individual.  He “runs” only a couple steps before he goes down in the street, and he does not move again during the remainder of the video while he is in the frame of the camera.

The shooter fires a few more shots as the people who were pursuing him all scatter in different directions.  The shooter then regains his feet and begins a more “tactical” retreat, walking backward while facing the direction that his pursuers had come from.

Several police vehicles can be seen arriving in the next 30-45 seconds, and the shooter makes contact with the first vehicle to arrive.

The videos certainly seem to capture many elements of what would be deemed a “self-defense” use of deadly force.  The fact that the shooter was in possession of a deadly weapon is not an issue under Wisconsin law. The details of the initial confrontation between the shooter and the first “victim” will play a meaningful role in the evaluation of the incident.  But if the shooter was placed in reasonable fear for his life, or that there was a threat of serious bodily injury to himself or others posed by the actions of the first “victim,” it is quite possible the first shooting was justified self-defense since he was being pursued.

If true, the individuals who mistakenly chased him down the street, under the wrong impression that he had done something illegal in the first shooting, are “on their own” legally.  They have no “right of apprehension” for a crime that did not occur.  The loss of life with regard to the second “victim” is regrettable, but he placed himself in a position to be vulnerable to the shooter’s perceived need to protect himself a second time.

Life lesson – don’t chase someone who has a gun if they have just used it.