Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, who served as the lead prosecutor in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, says he wouldn’t have prosecuted anyone that had shot and killed the teenager on the night of the shootings in Kenosha.
Despite saying that Wisconsin Supreme Court ethics rules would preclude him from making comments about the case in interviews or press conferences, Binger opted to give an interview to David Miranda of New York State Bar Association for the Miranda Warnings podcast.
During the interview, Binger said that there was credible evidence that suggested that Kyle was essentially looking for trouble, had his own political agenda and was willing to kill that night. He said it would have been reasonable for people to assume that Kyle was an active-shooter and had anyone taken Kyle out, they wouldn’t have been prosecuted. Therefore, for example, had Gaige Grosskreutz pulled the trigger while stood over Kyle while downed, no charges would have followed.
“In my mind, if someone in that crowd had a gun and had shot and killed Kyle Rittenhouse, our office would not have prosecuted, our office would not have found that person criminally liable,” said Binger.
In a very open interview with Miranda, Binger talked about how he prepared for the trial and said he was extremely frustrated that he was unable to present more evidence to the jury.
Binger explained: “What I wanted to do as best as I could during this trial was to try and differentiate this defendant from what people viewed as a, you know, young kid, the kid next door, you know, my nephew, he looks like him, he’s just doing what anybody would, do he’s a hero, so if we view them that way, if we view him sympathetically or if we think of him as my nephew or my kid next door, there’s no way I’m going to get a conviction.”
“I think that there were a lot of things about this defendant that set him apart from the pack and I filed motions before trial to introduce some of that evidence, such as his association with the Proud Boys, such as his statement 15 days before the shootings that he wished he had his rifle so that he could kill some shoplifters and I wanted the jury to hear that information because I think if they had heard it they might have seen him in a different light because I don’t think those are the types of things that you hear a 17-year-old do.
“Unfortunately the pre-trial rulings went against me and so I wasn’t able to get that evidence in front of the jury and I think ultimately that made this case very challenging because he does present as a young baby-faced kid who looks no different than your nephew or your next door neighbor, you know the kid that rakes your yard, the kid that mows your lawn or delivers your newspaper and so it became hard at that point.
“We had some less than sympathetic victims in this case who also had their own baggage so when you look at one side you see the baby-faced kid on the other side you see some folks that have some baggage that makes it even harder. In my mind this really came down to a bright line distinction of using deadly force against self-defense and I continue to believe that when you’re armed and you’re dealing with an unarmed person you don’t just get to kill them and I argued strenuously for that with the jury. I think we had some good video that showed that this was instigated by the defendant pointing his gun in the first place, bringing it to a situation and confronting unarmed people, but the jury saw it differently.”
He added: “This is a kid who had his own beliefs, who had his own agenda, who wanted to make a point and he was clearly, to simplify things, on one side of the public debate here and I’m not trying to criticize or defend or whatever either side, everybody’s entitled to their opinions, but let’s not hide the fact that he was there because of those beliefs and he was there to strike a blow for those beliefs and it became this veil, you know, subtone in the trial of, you know, these looters, these arsonists, these Black Lives Matters, [they] need to be stopped, they deserve to be killed because of what they are doing to our community.
“It goes back to the point we talked about earlier which is we should be allowed then to give the other side of the story which is this is someone who’s associated with Proud Boys, this is someone who uses that gun in unreasonable circumstances and there’s an agenda here. We hear one side but we weren’t allowed to hear the other side and that’s unfortunate.”
Asked about the emotional testimony that Kyle gave from the stand, Binger laughed and said: “You know, I’ve never in my life, and I’ve done over 100 jury trials, not all defendants testify obviously, but I’ve never seen a defendant testify and then be cross-examined and then there’s no redirect. They got him off the stand as quickly as they could, because they knew this is a kid who can they can only fill his head with so much coaching and then it’s going to break down and after five or six hours on the stand it’s not going to last, so they had a calculated strategy here.
“You know, they spent months I’m sure and money and time with whoever is out there helping to prep him for trial and I think on his direct examination I think he did a nice job. He did what they asked him to do. He came across, he looked presentable, he told his side of the story, he had his day in court.
“There was a time in which he started breaking down and crying which I thought was unconvincing. I thought that it was prompted by his own selfish fear or what he claimed to be his fear at that time which I think is a less than sympathetic prompt for crying. I think the tears were manufactured crocodile tears and I think the jury saw right through them.
“There was no remorse for anything. He was unapologetic, [there was] no concern about the lives that he took, none of that. I get it. You’ve got to walk a line in a self-defense case. You can’t be saying: ‘I’m legally justified but I feel bad that I killed those people’ so you know I get that. I’m cross. I did my best. I don’t take a ton amount of pride in it, I think I could have done better. I tried my best to knock some holes in it.”
Throughout the episode, Binger made numerous digs at Kyle and came across as extremely bitter. He referred to Joshua Ziminski as a “knucklehead”, said he wasn’t sure whether to call Gaige Grosskreutz as a witness because he was concerned that he might do more harm than good. He said he hadn’t spoken to the Rosenbaum or Huber families post-trial and claimed that he hasn’t listened to anything that Kyle has had to say since he was acquitted because he has “moved on with my life.”