Juror in Rittenhouse trial dismissed for telling ‘joke’ about Jacob Blake shooting

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a juror in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial on Thursday after he made a remark, described as “a joke,” about the shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse is on trial for killing two people and wounding another person during riots that erupted in Kenosha, Wis., after Blake was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer in August 2020.

Video Transcript

BRUCE SCHROEDER: The issue with respect to juror number-- is it number seven?

- Yes.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: Seven. And it was reported to me that while being escorted to-- he travels differently from the other jurors, because he's using that scooter. And it was reported to me that while being escorted to the car, he asked-- I'm going to summarize what I remember, what I was told-- that he was telling a joke. And he told the juror or the juror-- he told the officer-- you know, he made a reference to telling a joke about why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake, something to that effect.

It dealt with shots, and it dealt with Jacob Blake. And I did reveal it to you attorneys yesterday. And they closed the day after giving it some thought. It was a request by the state to excuse seven. And the last word ahead was the defense objected.

- Well, Judge, I think that I would object to at least having the-- I would ask that the juror come in.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: Well, I want to hear his side of it before I do anything.

- Right.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: But I did want to get your position, or you don't want to form a position until you've heard from?

- I think that's the appropriate thing to do.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: OK. And I think you're right. So let's--

- I would like to add a little bit, your honor.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: Oh, please do. Yes.

- What I heard from you yesterday-- and I understand this is literally fourth hand from the juror to Lieutenant Serline to you to us. So I wasn't there. I don't know exactly what the juror said, but it was my understanding it was something along the lines of, why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times? That's what I thought you had said to us.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: And that may have been.

- Sure. That puzzled me for a moment. And you made it sound like it was the beginning of a joke. So I wondered what the rest of the joke is.

It's my understanding that the rest of the joke is because they ran out of bullets. To me that is-- anyone who would find that funny would be finding the implication that if the Kenosha police had more than seven bullets, they would have continued to shoot Jacob Blake.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: The reason I asked you to come down was there was a-- I was told that while you were being escorted to the car the other day that you began to tell a joke about the shooting of Jacob Blake. And I wanted to see is that accurate or not. It is? OK. Are you comfortable repeating what the joke was, or do you want to just leave it alone?

I'm going to tell you that I spoke about-- well, I guess I'll hear from Mr-- do you want to finish what you were saying? I will tell you-- I will tell you that I've talked quite a bit about public confidence in the outcome of the trial. And regardless of whether the issue is as grave as you presented it in terms of inner feelings, it's clear that the appearance of bias is present. And it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case. So that in itself would be sufficient cause for discharge, but if you want to expand on that, you're welcome to.

- No, your honor.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: Did you want to say anything to the defense?

- If number seven is unwilling to repeat it, what it was, I think we're at a disadvantage. And I suppose his unwillingness can be taken in the worst light. So based on the unwillingness, at this point, I think it's probably the proper course.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: OK. All right. I think the best thing out of the circumstances, I'm going to dismiss you from the jury, sir. And we do thank you for taking the time to come down here. Thank you.

- My feeling is that it was nothing to do with the case. It wasn't anything to with the trial and his seven charges.

BRUCE SCHROEDER: Here. And I have not-- I've not stated that you have-- you know, one of the things that I have to do when I have to make judgments, I try to confine my judgments to the things I have to judge and not forming opinions about other people other than that. So I don't want to get into that.

The point I'm making is that the public needs to be confident that this is a fair trial. And I think at the very most it was bad judgment to tell a joke of that nature. OK. So that's-- OK.

Thank you very much, sir. Did I say at the very least or at the very most? At the very least, it was bad judgment.