Fact check: Charges not dropped against Kenosha gunman

Claim: All of Kyle Rittenhouse’s charges were dropped

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing two protesters and injuring a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has become a cause celebre for gun-rights activists and others.

Through online appeals, his lawyers have raised millions for Rittenhouse’s legal defense and released a video that positions him as a patriot who acted in self defense.

But have they already won an acquittal on all charges, as a viral Facebook post claims?

No. Far, far from it.

Rittenhouse faces charges in Wisconsin based on the shootings, which occurred late on Aug. 25 during civil unrest, which began after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, 29, in the back, leaving Blake paralyzed.

Rittenhouse is currently being held in Lake County, Illinois, where he turned himself in to authorities after returning home to Antioch after the incident.

More:Teen in Kenosha shootings fights extradition.

Nevertheless, an Oct. 13 post on Facebook included this blaring headline: “BREAKING NEWS: All Charges Dropped for Kyle Rittenhouse.”.

The post included two images of Rittenhouse from that night with these words: “All charges dropped for Kyle Rittenhouse,” and “Lake County prosecutors announce they will not file charges against Kyle Rittenhouse.”.

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This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook).

We reached out to the Facebook user who posted the claim but did not hear back.

But this is an easy one to tackle: The claim that all charges have been dropped is simply false.

More:’The number one priority’: Kenosha mayor takes on racial inequities after Jacob Blake shooting.

No charges in Illinois

The confusion may stem from an announcement earlier on Oct. 13, in which prosecutors in Lake County, Ill., Said they had found no basis to charge Rittenhouse under Illinois laws.

More specifically, an article posted that day on JSOnline.Com, the website of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, noted the Illinois authorities said they had determined the AR-15 rifle in question had been purchased, stored and used in Wisconsin, and that Rittenhouse never possessed it in Illinois.

Thus, he would not face gun-related charges there.

But Rittenhouse still faces Wisconsin charges of first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of two protesters and attempted intentional homicide in the wounding of a third. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of underage firearm possession.

Those charges are on hold while Rittenhouse’s lawyers fight his extradition to Wisconsin.

But they have not been dropped, or otherwise magically gone away.

Our ruling: False

A Facebook post said: “All charges dropped for Kyle Rittenhouse.” That is flatly and plainly wrong. The shootings happened in Wisconsin, not Illinois. The Wisconsin charges remain. Rittenhouse was never charged in Illinois, so when authorities said they found no basis to issue gun-possession charges, it didn’t change anything. We rate the claim FALSE.

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Our fact check sources:

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 9, Kyle Rittenhouse’s lawyers say extraditing teen to Wisconsin would be ‘turning him over to the mob’.
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 13, Illinois prosecutor says there’s no evidence Kyle Rittenhouse took the gun used in Kenosha shootings out of Wisconsin.
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    Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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