KENOSHA, Wis. - A Kyle Rittenhouse trial juror will no longer be involved in the case because of something he said to a bailiff about the Jacob Blake shooting, the incident that caused the nightly protests that brought Rittenhouse to Kenosha. Blake's uncle said he's "not surprised."
Rittenhouse is the one on trial, but the root of the events of that August night stems from the shooting and wounding of Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer days earlier.
On Thursday, Nov. 4, the judge in the Rittenhouse case dismissed a white juror for reportedly making a joke about the shooting.
Before the third day of testimony began in the Rittenhouse trial, Judge Bruce Schroeder called down Juror No. 7.
Kenosha County Prosecutor Thomas Binger
"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 if that was accurate or not?" said Judge Schroeder. "Are you comfortable repeating what the joke was, or do you want to just leave it alone?"
The juror, a retired white man, declined to repeat what he said.
"It was something along the lines of, 'Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?’" said Thomas Binger, prosecutor.
Binger said the joke showed racial bias.
"It’s my understanding that the rest of the joke is, "Because they ran out of bullets,'" said Binger.
Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schoeder
Judge Schroeder said he wants to maintain public confidence in the outcome of the trial.
"It’s clear that the appearance of bias is present, and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case," he said.
The juror was dismissed.
Outside the courthouse, Jacob Blake's uncle, Justin Blake, reacted.
"Got several texts last night but didn’t say specifically what," he said.
It wasn't until Thursday morning that he heard what was said.
"So it doesn’t surprise us at the least," said Justin Blake. "Matter of fact, we almost knew it was going to happen. I think (dismissing the juror is) the first thing this judge has done to show he’s trying to be non-biased. Our family has tough skin, so we know the environment that we’re in, but it shows the privity, lowliness and the racism that exists and that’s on the jury, in the jury box."
Nineteen jurors remain, including seven alternates made up of 11 women, eight men and only one person of color.
Blake's uncle said Thursday he plans on holding a small march in Kenosha Friday in support of the families of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, killed in the Kenosha shootings.