MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Wednesday that a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a man shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse during a protest in 2020 can proceed against Rittenhouse, police officers and others.
The father of Anthony Huber, one of two men shot and killed by Rittenhouse, filed the lawsuit in 2021, accusing officers of allowing for a dangerous situation that violated his son's constitutional rights and resulted in his death. Anthony Huber's father, John Huber, also alleged that Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, conspired with law enforcement to cause harm to protestors. John Huber is seeking unspecified damages from city officials, officers and Rittenhouse.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman on Wednesday dismissed motions filed by Rittenhouse and the government defendants seeking to dismiss the civil rights lawsuit.
In allowing the case against Rittenhouse and the others to proceed, the judge said that Anthony Huber's death “could plausibly be regarded as having been proximately caused by the actions of the governmental defendants.”
Rittenhouse attorney Shane Martin said in a phone interview that it's important to note the ruling doesn't address the merits of the case, it only allows it to proceed to the next phase.
“While we respect the judge’s decision, we do not believe there is any evidence of a conspiracy and we are confident, just as a Kenosha jury found, Kyle’s actions that evening were not wrongful and were undertaken in self defense,” Martin said.
Attorneys and private investigators for John Huber spent over 100 hours trying to locate Rittenhouse, tracking down addresses in seven states before they found the home of his mother and sister in Florida. The lawsuit was served on Rittenhouse’s sister, who said that he wasn’t home. Adelman said that was sufficient to qualify as being served.
Rittenhouse had argued that the case against him should be dismissed because he wasn’t properly served with the lawsuit. Adelman dismissed that, saying that Rittenhouse “is almost certainly evading service.”
“Rittenhouse has been deliberately cagey about his whereabouts,” Adelman wrote. “Although he denies living in Florida, he does not identify the place that he deems to be his residence.”
Attorneys for the law enforcement and government officials being sued did not immediately return emailed messages seeking comment.
The ruling puts Anthony Huber's family "one step closer to justice for their son’s needless death,” said Anand Swaminathan, one of the attorneys for parents John Huber and Karen Bloom.
“The Kenosha officials that created a powder keg situation by their actions tried to claim that they cannot be held accountable for their unconstitutional conduct; that argument was soundly rejected today," Swaminathan said in a statement.
Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering for killing Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and wounding a third person with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle in the summer of 2020 during a tumultuous night of protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.
Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges in November 2021 after testifying he acted in self-defense. Rittenhouse’s actions became a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice in the U.S.
Rittenhouse went to Kenosha from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, after businesses were ransacked and burned in the nights that followed Blake’s shooting. He joined other armed civilians on the streets, carrying a weapon authorities said was illegally purchased for him because he was underage.
Rittenhouse first killed Rosenbaum, 36, in the parking lot of an auto dealership and as Rittenhouse ran from the scene he stumbled and fell. Anthony Huber, 26, struck Rittenhouse with his skateboard and tried to disarm him. Rittenhouse fell to the ground and shot Anthony Huber to death and wounded demonstrator Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
This case is one of several ongoing civil lawsuits filed in the wake of the shootings. Grosskreutz last year filed a similar lawsuit against Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse has maintained a high public profile, particularly on social media, where he is an outspoken advocate for gun rights. He has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter and has spoken at conservative gatherings.