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 2020 protest can proceed against Rittenhouse, police officers and others.
The father of Anthony Huber, one of the two men shot and killed by Rittenhouse, filed the lawsuit in 2021, accusing officers of allowing an unsafe situation that violated his son’s constitutional rights and led to his death. Anthony Huber’s father, John Huber, also alleged that Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, conspired with law enforcement to injure the protesters. John Huber is seeking unspecified damages from city officials, employees and Rittenhouse.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman on Wednesday denied 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 Anthony Huber’s death “could be viewed as directly caused by the actions of the government defendants.”
Rittenhouse argued that the case against him should be dismissed because he was not properly served. Adelman dismissed that, saying Rittenhouse was “almost certainly avoiding office.”
John Huber’s attorneys and private investigators spent more than 100 hours trying to find Rittenhouse, tracing addresses in seven states before finding his mother and sister’s home in Florida. The case was served on Rittenhouse’s sister, who said he was not home. Adelman said that was enough to qualify as served.
“Rittenhouse was deliberately sneaky about his whereabouts,” Adelman wrote. “Although he denies living in Florida, he has not identified where he considers his residence.”
Attorneys for Rittenhouse did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment. Attorneys for law enforcement and Kenosha officials sued also did not immediately return emailed messages.
The decision puts Anthony Huber’s family “one step closer to justice for the needless death of their son,” said Anand Swaminathan, one of the attorneys for John Huber and Karen Bloom, Anthony Huber’s parents.
“Kenosha officials, who created a powder keg situation with their actions, tried to argue that they could not be held responsible for their unconstitutional conduct; that argument was roundly rejected today,” Swaminathan said in a statement.
Rittenhouse was charged with murder, attempted murder and reckless endangerment 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 against the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white policeman from Kenosha.
Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges in November 2021 after testifying that he acted in self-defense. Rittenhouse’s actions have become a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice in the US
Rittenhouse drove to Kenosha from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, after businesses were looted and burned in the nights following Blake’s shooting. He joined other armed civilians on the streets, carrying weapons that authorities say were illegally purchased for him because he is a minor.
Rittenhouse first killed Rosenbaum, 36, in the parking lot of a car dealership, and as Rittenhouse fled the scene, he tripped and fell. Anthony Huber, 26, hit Rittenhouse with his skateboard and tried to disarm him. Rittenhouse fell to the ground and shot Anthony Huber and wounded protester Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
This case is one of several ongoing civil suits filed since the shooting. Grosskreutz last year filed a similar lawsuit against Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse maintains a high public profile, particularly on social media, where he is an outspoken advocate for gun rights. He has nearly 1 million Twitter followers and has spoken at conservative gatherings.