An armed Black Lives Matter protester who survived the triple shooting that killed two in Kenosha, Wis., is suing the police — accusing them of “deputizing” teen gunman Kyle Rittenhouse and “a band of white nationalist vigilantes.”
Gaige Grosskreutz — who said his bicep was almost blasted off — filed a federal lawsuit Friday against Kenosha’s police department, its chief, the sheriff’s office and the city itself, among others.
“It was a natural consequence of the actions of the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha Sherriff’s office in deputizing a roving militia to ‘protect property’ and ‘assist in maintaining order,’” it said.
The lawsuit insisted that officers “discussed and coordinated strategy” with “white nationalist militia persons” who were known to be at the protests in August last year with a clear “intent to kill.”
Among them was shooter Rittenhouse, who was just 17 but was allowed to brandish a “weapon of war” — a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle and 30 rounds of ammunition, the lawsuit said.
“Despite being in clear violation of Wisconsin law, Rittenhouse was not asked for identification, was not questioned, was never detained, and was not disarmed,” the lawsuit said.
“If a Black person had approached police with an assault rifle, offering to patrol the streets with the police, he most likely would have been shot dead,” the lawsuit said.
Instead, officers “allowed Rittenhouse to patrol the streets of downtown Kenosha with his deadly assault rifle” and “invited him in, deputized him, conspired with him, and ratified his actions,” the lawsuit claimed.
The lawsuit highlighted viral video that showed officers offering the heavily armed groups water while enforcing a curfew against BLM protesters.
“We appreciate you guys — we really do,” it quoted an officer telling them, calling it “words of encouragement, appreciation, and thanks” to “Rittenhouse and a band of white nationalist vigilantes.”
“They embraced these armed vigilantes as part of their effort to police the streets and confront anti-police brutality protester,” the lawsuit insisted.
The police and sheriff’s departments “deliberately orchestrated these circumstances” with its “clear message” that “armed individuals who supported law enforcement could roam free and assist the officers,” the lawsuit said.
“These events directly led to Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber’s deaths and the serious bodily injury to which Gaige Grosskreutz was subjected to,” it claimed.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for multiple constitutional violations, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, equal protection and free speech violations, and failure to intervene.
Grosskreutz has admitted taking his own handgun to the protest, saying in earlier interviews, “Absolutely. I believe in the right to bear arms,”
Attorney Sam Hall, who represents Kenosha County and Sheriff David Beth, said Friday that the lawsuit’s allegations are false.
He said it fails to acknowledge that Grosskreutz was armed when he was shot by Rittenhouse, and he noted that Grosskreutz hasn’t sued Rittenhouse. Hall said he will request dismissal of the case.
Huber’s family filed a similar lawsuit in August alleging police facilitated the shootings. That case is pending.
Rittenhouse faces trial next month on multiple counts, including homicide.
He has long claimed he fired in self-defense after Rosenbaum and Huber attacked him and Grosskreutz ran up to him armed with a handgun, as captured in chilling video and photos.