Mental health

Rittenhouse trial arguments worry mental health advocates – Yakima Herald-Republic

Summary

The first man Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was “irrational and crazy,” Rittenhouse’s attorney told jurors at his murder trial.

Joseph Rosenbaum had been on medication for bipolar disorder and depression, and he was trying to take Rittenhouse’s rifle, attorney Mark Richards said, suggesting there could have been more bloodshed if Rittenhouse hadn’t acted.

“I’m glad he shot him because if Joseph Rosenb…….

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The first man Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was “irrational and crazy,” Rittenhouse’s attorney told jurors at his murder trial.

Joseph Rosenbaum had been on medication for bipolar disorder and depression, and he was trying to take Rittenhouse’s rifle, attorney Mark Richards said, suggesting there could have been more bloodshed if Rittenhouse hadn’t acted.

“I’m glad he shot him because if Joseph Rosenbaum got that gun I don’t for a minute believe he wouldn’t have used it against somebody else,” Richards said during closing arguments in the 18-year-old Illinois man’s trial for killing Rosenbaum and another man and wounding a third during a chaotic night of protests in August 2020.

To some legal experts and other observers, Richards’ remarks were a smart courtroom strategy and an accurate depiction of the threat faced by Rittenhouse, who says he shot the men in self-defense. But mental health advocates heard something different: a dangerous assumption that people living with mental illness are homicidal and need to be killed, and terminology such as “crazy” that they say is pejorative and adds to the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder and depression are more likely to hurt themselves than hurt others, said Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota. That’s why NAMI’s work includes training police officers to use de-escalation strategies when dealing with people who have a mental illness.

“You just don’t have someone shot down, particularly someone who is unarmed,” she said.

Jason Lackowski, a former Marine who said he went armed to the Kenosha protests to protect property, testified during the trial that Rosenbaum acted “belligerently” that night and seemed to want “to entice someone to do something,” but did not appear to pose a serious threat to anyone. Lackowski said he turned his back on Rosenbaum and ignored him.

Rittenhouse didn’t know Rosenbaum or his background when they crossed paths at the protest that followed the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer. And the jury wasn’t supposed to know much about him either.

During pretrial hearings, defense attorneys said they wanted to present evidence of Rosenbaum’s past, including an Arizona conviction for having sex with a minor in 2002. They planned to argue that Rosenbaum, 36, was trying to take the then-17-year-old Rittenhouse’s weapon during their encounter because Rosenbaum wasn’t legally allowed to have a gun due to his criminal past. Prosecutors argued that the defense was trying to signal to the jury that Rosenbaum was a bad guy who deserved to die.

Judge Bruce Schroeder blocked defense lawyers from revealing the sex crime conviction at the trial. Jurors also were not supposed to hear about Rosenbaum’s mental health history, which Schroeder said wasn’t relevant because Rittenhouse didn’t know it when he shot him.

But the information came …….

Source: https://www.yakimaherald.com/news/nation_and_world/rittenhouse-trial-arguments-worry-mental-health-advocates/article_1f81f927-098b-5bb0-aee1-9bdb6975d82b.html