The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse's homicide trial dismissed a juror on Thursday for displaying "bad judgment."
The juror admitted to the judge that he told a joke to a sheriff's deputy about the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The dismissal leaves 19 jurors: 11 women and eight men.
A Kenosha judge dismissed a juror from Kyle Rittenhouse's trial on Thursday, after the juror admitted to telling a joke to a sheriff's deputy about the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said Juror #7 had demonstrated "bad judgment" in telling a joke of that nature. Before dismissing the juror, Schroeder emphasized to all parties the importance of maintaining public confidence in the trial, which has become highly politicized.
"I've talked quite a bit about public confidence in the outcome of the trial," Schroeder said. "It is clear that the appearance of bias is present. And it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case."
Rittenhouse is on trial for fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during a night of civil unrest and racial justice protests following Blake's shooting in August 2020.
Blake, who is Black, was left partly paralyzed after a white Kenosha police officer shot him in the back seven times.
The dismissal leaves 19 jurors, with 11 women and eight men who are overwhelmingly white, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Ultimately 12 jurors will be selected to deliberate on the verdict.
Though the juror who was dismissed declined to repeat his joke before the court, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said he'd heard fourth-hand that the juror had asked why it took a police officer seven bullets to shoot Jacob Blake. The apparent punchline was that the officer ran out of bullets, according to Binger.
"To me, anyone who would find that funny would be finding that if the Kenosha police had more than seven bullets, they would have continued to shoot Jacob Blake," Binger said.
Though the juror protested that his joke "had nothing to do with the case" and "nothing to do with the trial," Schroeder said that wasn't the point.
"I don't want to get into that," he said. "The point I'm making is that the public needs to be confident that it's a fair trial."
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