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Kyle Rittenhouse Trial: Juror Removed Over Joke About Jacob Blake Shooting

CHICAGO (CBS) -- On the third day of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, the judge dismissed a juror who joked with a courtroom deputy about why Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake, the incident that prompted the civil unrest during which Rittenhouse shot three people, killing two of them.

"It was my understanding it was something along the lines of, 'Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?'" said Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger. "It's my understanding that the rest of the joke is: 'Because they ran out of bullets.'"

Rittenhouse, who is white, is accused of traveling to Kenosha after learning of a call to protect businesses after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by police seven times in the back on Aug. 23, 2020 and left paralyzed. The officer who shot Blake was not charged with a crime.

In the first couple of nights after police shot Blake, there was large-scale unrest in Kenosha during which several buildings were set on fire.

Prosecutors accuse Rittenhouse of patrolling downtown Kenosha with an assault-style rifle on the third night of the unrest. Rittenhouse opened fire with that rifle during the protests, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.

Binger told the judge in Rittenhouse's trial that the juror's joke about Blake's shooting was in poor taste, and showed racial bias.

Before testimony resumed for the day on Thursday, Judge Bruce Schroeder questioned that juror, asking him to repeat the joke, but he refused.

The juror, a middle-aged man who sat at the edge of the judge's bench in a scooter he uses to get around, appeared ill-at-ease while the judge questioned him about the joke.

"It had nothing to do with the case," he said.

However, Schroeder said it was important to maintain public confidence in the case, and he had no choice but to remove the juror.

That leaves a 19-person jury for the trial, 12 primary jurors and seven alternates.

Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three people, killing two, during protests in Kenosha. His attorneys have said he was acting in self-defense.

The trial is in the third day of testimony, and is expected to last two to three weeks.

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