Over in the United States, accused Kyle Rittenhouse, was recently acquitted of all charges after pleading self-defence in a deadly shooting.
The shootings took place during a night protest over police violence. Mr Rittenhouse killed two men and wounded a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle.
Mr Rittenhouse was charged with five felonies: first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
The prosecution portrayed Mr Rittenhouse as a reckless vigilante who provoked the violent encounters and showed no remorse for the men he shot. Whilst the defence argued that Rittenhouse had been repeatedly attacked and had shot the men in fear for his life.
In Mr Rittenhouse’s testimony he told the Court that he acted in self-defence:
“If I would have let Mr Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people”.
Rittenhouse referred to the other people he shot as part of a ‘mob’ chasing him- one who came at him, struck him with a skateboard and grabbed his gun and the other who lunged at him and pointed a pistol at his head.
Rittenhouse’s testimony gave jurors the ability to hear that he believed he was faced with danger and after deliberating for nearly three and a half days acquitted Rittenhouse on all counts.
The Law in New South Wales
In New South Wales, the law recognises that a person can protect themselves, their property, or another person when they are being physically attacked or are faced with a threat of physical violence. However, the extent to which violence can be used in ‘self-defence’ depends on the circumstances and the extent of the threat faced.
Self-Defence and Murder
When a person is charged with murder, a conviction for manslaughter is ‘open’ as an alternative to the judge or jury.
What that means is that if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that what the accused did was not a reasonable response in the circumstances then the accused can be found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. Alternatively, if it is found that the prosecution has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was acting in self-defence, the accused may be found not guilty of murder and not guilty of manslaughter.
Read more on self-defence here.
Image: NBC News.