During the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial on Monday, prosecutors used a still from the 1989 action-thriller “Road House” in their closing arguments.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger accompanied the photo with the caption “The Defendant brought a gun to a fistfight.”
The photo in question shows Patrick Swayze’s bouncer character Dalton preparing to fight Marshall Teague’s Jimmy. In the scene, a bar fight between the Double Deuce bouncers and a group of ex-cons is broken up when Brad Wesley (Ben Carrazza) fires a gunshot.
Binger used the scene in an attempt to illustrate how Rittenhouse engaged in “reckless conduct” and acted unreasonably when he shot three people with an AR-15.
“What you don’t do is you don’t bring a gun to a fistfight,” Binger said. “What the defendant wants you to believe is that because he’s the one who brought the gun, he gets to kill.”
Binger then drew a “contrast” between two different scenarios: one in which two unarmed men are involved in a bar fight, as in the “Road House” scene prior to the gun being fired.
The only difference between a bar fight and the case at hand, he argued, “is the defendant brought a gun … That’s why he’s got to come up with this cockamamie theory that Joseph Rosenbaum was not only going to take the gun, but take it and then turn it on the defendant.”
Rittenhouse is standing trial for the Aug. 25, 2020, shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Heuber and Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse carried out the shootings at a protest, one of several demonstrations that erupted in the aftermath of a police officer shooting and wounding a Black man, Jacob Blake.
Rosenbaum and Heuber died of their injuries. Rittenhouse, who claims he acted in self-defense, faces seven charges, including first degree intentional homicide and carrying a firearm illegally as a minor. If convicted, the homicide charges yield a maximum sentence of life in prison.
During closing arguments, Binger told the jury that Rittenhouse was guilty on all counts. “You lose the right to self-defense … when you’re the one creating the danger,” Binger said.
“Road House” received a lukewarm response at the box office and from critics, but it has become something of a cult classic. Twitter users reacted to Binger’s reference to the film with a mixture of disbelief and disapproval.
“I don’t know what’s worse,” Katie Pavlich tweeted. “The prosecutor’s absurd argument about self defense or…the fact that he used this graphic in a presentation to the court and jury.”
“Using a scene from the movie “Roadhouse” to bolster your case is probably not a good strategy,” Art Goodrich replied.