- Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and injuring a third on August 25, 2020, in Kenosha.
- A surviving victim is suing the city and county of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and law enforcement officers.
- The lawsuit alleges police strategized with and encouraged an armed militia.
A lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday by Gaige Grosskreutz, a protester who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse, accuses Kenosha law enforcement of “deputizing a roving militia to ‘protect property’ and ‘assist in maintaining order.'”
“It was not a mistake that Kyle Rittenhouse would kill two people and maim a third on that evening. It was a natural consequence of the actions of the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha Sheriff’s office,” the lawsuit says.
Grosskreutz is one of three people who were shot by Rittenhouse on August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during the protests and riots that erupted over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, both died.
Rittenhouse, then 17, of Antioch, Illinois, crossed state lines with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to attend the riots. He has been charged on multiple homicide counts and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial is set to begin on November 1 and his attorneys are expected to argue the shootings were in self-defense, according to The Washington Post.
The city and county of Kenosha are named as defendants in Grosskreutz’s lawsuit, along with specific members of law enforcement. The city, county, and Kenosha Police Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
The suit alleges Kenosha law enforcement officers encouraged and expressed thanks to “Kyle Rittenhouse and a band of white nationalist vigilantes” on the night of the shootings.
“Despite the fact that the armed individuals were in violation of the curfew order, the officers and deputies communicated their full support and appreciation for Rittenhouse and others,” the lawsuit said.
Among other accusations, the suit alleges Rittenhouse and others were prompted by Kevin Mathewson, a former Kenosha city alderman, who posted a call to action on Facebook on behalf of the Kenosha Guard, a militia group he formed, calling for “patriots willing to take up arms and defend our City tonight against the evil thugs.”
Mathewson also sent an email to KPD Chief Daniel Miskinis and KPD Public Information Officer Joseph Nosalik, according to the lawsuit.
“As you know, I am the Commander of the Kenosha Guard, a local militia. We are mobilizing tonight and have about 3,000 RSVP’s. We have volunteers that will be in Uptown, downtown, and at the entrances to other neighborhoods,” the email from Mathewson read.
Neither Miskinis nor Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, both of whom are listed as defendants in the complaint, made any attempt to dissuade the armed individuals from patrolling Kenosha, the lawsuit alleges.
Sam Hill, an attorney for Beth, said in a statement the claims in the lawsuit are false and that he will try to have the suit thrown out, The Washington Post reported. The other defendants named in the lawsuit could not be reached.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.