Citizen Journalists Footage Plays Key Role at Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

One Milwaukee-based videographer covering the trial may be subpoenaed to testify, attorneys suggest.

Kristan T. Harris is feeling exhausted this week, an all-too-familiar feeling – he’s been commuting from Milwaukee to Kenosha every day to cover the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse as well as fielding media requests just like he did in August of 2020.

As Milwaukee Magazine reported last year, Harris is one of several “citizen journalists” – people who attend protests and other events to report live from the thick of things on the street – who were filming the night Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and injured a third on Aug. 25, 2020. Videos from citizen journalists were instrumental in piecing together the events of what happened that night.

Among those filming dangerously close to the shootings were Harris, who has a show called The Rundown Live; CJ Halliburton of Seattle, who has a platform called CJTV; and Brendan Gutenschwager of Detroit, whose handle is BG on the Scene. All three have had their footage entered as evidence into the trial.

 

 

 

Another citizen journalist, Kenosha’s Koerri Elijah, took the stand on the first and second day of the trial this week, explaining footage he had captured that night that showed protesters confronting members of the “Kenosha Guard” ad hoc militia.

“People like myself tend to go out and document situations just so there’s a record of things. A lot of times with the media, there’s sound bites and in my opinion people like myself make things better for everyone to show another side, a full picture,” Elijah testified.

Milwaukee citizen journalist Kristian T. Harris outside the Kenosha County Courthouse this seek. Photo courtesy Kristian T. Harris.

On day two of the trial, the footage Harris broadcast via The Rundown Live was reviewed in court. When the defense objected to Harris’ narration in the video as “editorialization,” the prosecution responded, “I think the individual who recorded this is available to be subpoenaed if necessary,” while a visibly surprised Harris sat just a few feet behind him in court.

Harris said Thursday evening that he was expecting a potential subpoena and he’ll take the stand if called but does find the idea is “stressful.” Revisiting that night has taken a toll on him – he says he’s only watched his footage once since the night it happened.

“It’s rough reliving and going through all that stuff,” Harris says. “I don’t know what PTSD is, but I think I might understand what it’s like for people who have it. Your mind races, it’s hard to sleep at night, you’re always thinking about what happened.”

The Rittenhouse trial is back in session today and footage from citizen journalists will likely continue to be key pieces of evidence. The trial, which began Monday with jury selection, is now expected to extend into a third week.

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