By Carma Hassan and Sara Sidner, CNN
Gaige Grosskreutz, the sole survivor of the Kenosha protests shootings, is suing the City of Kenosha, Kenosha County and many of its officers, alleging “Kenosha law enforcement officers and white nationalist militia persons discussed and coordinated strategy” that led to the shooting that injured him and killed two others.
“It was not a mistake that Kyle Rittenhouse would kill two people and maim a third on that evening. It was a natural consequence of the actions of the Kenosha Police Department (KPD) and Kenosha Sherriff’s Department (KCSD) in deputizing a roving militia to ‘protect property’ and ‘assist in maintaining order,'” the lawsuit alleges.
Grosskreutz was at the August 2020 demonstrations protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake when he was shot.
“I was shot point blank with a .223 round from the shooter,” Grosskreutz told CNN last year. “And I am now missing 90% of my bicep. This has not been easy emotionally, physically. I’m in constant pain, like excruciating pain that just doesn’t go away — both in my arm, in my heart.”
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, identifies the City of Kenosha, Kenosha County, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, former police chief Daniel Miskinis, interim Police Chief Eric Larsen and other county and city police officers, listed as Jane and John Does, as the defendants.
CNN has contacted Rittenhouse’s attorney, the City of Kenosha, Miskinis and the Kenosha Police Department but did not immediately hear back. An attorney representing Beth and Kenosha County said they plan to file a motion seeking dismissal of the case.
“The allegations against Sheriff Beth and the Kenosha Sheriff’s Office are false. The lawsuit also fails to acknowledge that Mr. Grosskreutz was himself armed with a firearm when he was shot and Mr. Grosskreutz failed to file this lawsuit against the person who actually shot him,” attorney Samuel C. Hall said.
Police have charged Rittenhouse with the shooting, which he claims was in self-defense. He is not named as a defendant in this lawsuit, and has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges against him.
The lawsuit alleges that “Miskinis and Beth acknowledged that the KPD and KCSD were aware that that pro-militia, armed individuals intended to patrol and then did patrol downtown Kenosha” and neither one “made any attempt to dissuade … armed individuals from showing up in Kenosha to patrol the streets.”
“Defendants did nothing to stop Rittenhouse’s illegal conduct. …They did not arrest him, detain him, or question him even after he had killed two people and nearly killed Grosskreutz,” the lawsuit states. “Instead, Defendants deputized Rittenhouse and other armed individuals, conspired with them, and ratified their actions by allowing them to patrol the streets armed illegally with deadly weapons and shoot and kill innocent citizens.”
Grosskreutz’s lawsuit also alleges that race was a factor, surmising that the defendants would have treated Rittenhouse “much differently” if he were Black.
“If a Black child had shot three citizens with an assault rifle and was seen walking away from the scene of the shooting with the assault rifle in hand, while other citizens yelled he was an active shooter, he would have been shot dead,” the lawsuit states.
Citing the low number of Black officers on the Kenosha Police Department and the lack of Black people in leadership roles, the lawsuit states the Kenosha Police Department’s “support of, and coordination with, the armed individuals was a product of its systemic, racially discriminatory policies and practices.”
This is not the first lawsuit filed against Kenosha authorities in relation to the protests. In August, the father of slain victim Anthony Huber filed a lawsuit alleging the “conduct of the Kenosha Police Department, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, and its supervisors and police officers, directly caused Anthony Huber’s death.”
Legal proceedings in that case are ongoing.
Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, also was killed in the protests.
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