A white male juror in the ongoing trial of Kyle Rittenhouse faced dismissal after he was caught joking about Jacob Blake, a black man whose shooting led to the widespread protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The man identified as Juror 7 told the joke to a court police officer.
It was in August, last year, when 29-year-old Blake was shot seven times in the back by Rusten Sheskey, a white Kenosha police officer, outside an apartment building. Following the incident, Blake was left paralyzed waist down.
Who is Juror 7?
Rittenhouse, who is accused of fatally shooting two people and wounding another during the BLM protests on Aug. 25, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree homicide, one count of attempted homicide, two counts of recklessly endangering safety, and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, as his trial began on Tuesday.
NPR reported that the juror, who is a retired white male, told the joke to the officer as he was being escorted to his car on Wednesday afternoon. Later, the officer reported the matter to Judge Bruce Schroeder.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said, "I wasn't there. I don't know exactly what the juror said, but it was my understanding that it was something along the lines of 'Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?'"
"It's my understanding that the rest of the joke is 'Because they ran out of bullets,'" Binger said. When the juror was called up by the Judge, he accepted to have told the joke. However, the juror refused to repeat the same on being asked to do so.
Demanding the juror's dismissal, Binger said, "The joke is in bad taste, there are a plethora of bad jokes out there with everything to do with all this, this is one of them. But I think the rest of this joke, as it were, suggests some sort of racial bias which I think comes into play."
Juror said Joke Was Unrelated to Rittenhouse's Case
Buzzfeed News reported that while trying to defend his joke, the juror told the judge that it was irrelevant to the Rittenhouse's trial. "My feeling is, it was nothing to do with the case. It wasn't anything to do with Kyle and his seven charges," he said, according to the outlet.
"It is clear that the appearance to bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case...The point I'm making is that the public needs to be confident that this is a fair trial and I think â at the very most, it was bad judgment to tell a joke of that nature," Schroeder said.
Speaking to CNN, Blake's uncle, Justin Blake said, "The juror's mentality shows his bias and callousness and he should be nowhere near the jury box in this case. It shows the depravity and racism and the lowness of a member of a jury that was selected in one day."
Following the dismissal of Juror 7, the panel is now left with 19 jurors, including 11 women and 8 men.