Juror removed from Kyle Rittenhouse trial for joke about Jacob Blake shooting

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A juror was removed from the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse for a joke Judge Bruce Schroeder said was told in "bad judgement."

Juror #7 told the joke to a court officer when being escorted back to the juror vehicle earlier this week. The officer revealed the interaction to the court at which point the prosecution said the juror should be removed.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, prosecutor Thomas Binger explained why he thought the joke revealed bias in the juror and was grounds for removal.

"It was my understanding it was something along the lines of, 'Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?'" Binger explained. "It's my understanding the rest of the joke was, 'Because they ran out of bullets.' To me, anyone who would find that funny, would be finding the implication that if the Kenosha police had more than seven bullets, they would've continued to shoot Jacob Blake, as funny, which I do not."

Judge Schroeder agreed.

"I've talked quite a bit about public confidence in the outcome of the trial," Schroeder said. "And regardless of if the issue is as grave as you presented it in terms of inner feelings, it is clear the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case."

Juror #7 was asked to tell the joke in court but declined.

Because of that, the defense agreed with the decision to dismiss.

"Based on the unwillingness at this point, I think that it is probably the proper course," defense attorney Corey Chirafisi said.

The juror believed the joke was not reason enough for his removal.

"My feeling is that it has nothing to do with the case," the juror said. "It has nothing to do with Kyle [Rittenhouse] and his seven charges."

But Judge Schroeder reaffirmed his position about the integrity of the jury.

"The public needs to be confident that this is a fair trial, and even at the very most, it was bad judgement to tell a joke of that nature," Schroeder said.

Legal experts say the dismissal was the right move.

"To me it was a no-brainer, quite honestly, given the nature of what was said," attorney Julius Kim said.

Kim said Schroeder could have gone a step further to ensure the trust and confidence in the jury and trial.

"To me, out of an abundance of caution, I probably would have voir dired the rest of the jury that's remaining and asked them if they had heard of anything, if this person said anything and if they did, if that would impact their ability to be fair in this case," Kim said.

Jacob Blake's family told CBS 58 it was disturbed by the joke but believed the dismissal was appropriate.

"We hope that we removed the brown part of the apple out and they can get to talking about the facts," Jacob Blake said.

Juror #7 was a white man. The remaining jurors are now made up of 11 women and eight men. 18 of them are white and one of them is a person of color.

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