Journalist did not photograph Rittenhouse jurors during traffic incident, NBC says

Journalist did not photograph Rittenhouse jurors during traffic incident, NBC says
Kenosha police say there was no breach of jury security and no photographs were obtained

A freelance journalist for NBC News who was cited for a traffic violation near a bus transporting jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial did not photograph, contact or intend to contact the jury, according to a statement from the outlet.

The incident prompted the judge presiding over the trial to bar MSNBC from the courtroom through the duration of the trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as jurors continue a third day of deliberations on a verdict.

“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them,” the statement said.

“We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation,” NBC News said.

A statement from the Kenosha Police Department said that “there was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained” following the traffic stop.

Follow the latest updates on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial

Jurors have been transported to the courthouse in a “sealed” bus with blacked-out windows so they’re not able to see demonstrators, billboards or other images related to the trial.

Judge Bruce Schroeder told the court on 18 November that the incident is a “very serious matter, and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is.”

The judge has barred MSNBC from the courtroom through the duration of the trial.

“It would go without much thinking, that someone who is following a jury bus, that is an extremely serious matter, and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action,” Judge Schroeder said.

The Independent has requested additional comment from MSNBC and the Kenosha Police Department.

Mr Rittenhouse faces five felonies after fatally shooting two men and injuring another in the aftermath of police brutality protests on 25 August 2020.

Jurors deliberated for nearly 17 hours, as of Thursday morning.

Now in its 14th day, the trial – which is being televised – has drawn international news attention that has pulled the judge, defence attorneys, prosecutors and proceedings into a 24-hour news cycle and partisan political coverage.

Over two weeks, jurors watched more than a dozen pieces of video, including livestreams, an interview Mr Rittenhouse gave moments before he fired his gun, body camera footage, and aerial video from the FBI.

They also heard testimony from police, people who witnessed the shootings, the man who survived, and Mr Rittenhouse himself.

On Wednesday, the judge criticised media coverage and “irresponsible statements” that he feels have sought to undermine the outcome.

“As I spoke about it on the first day of trial, the result of the trial should be open to public scrutiny and people should have confidence in the outcome of the trial. I think we can all agree on that, and it’s just a shame that irresponsible statements are being made,” he said from the bench on 17 November as the jury was absent, referring to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about the judge’s decision-making.

Later, he added: “When I talked about problems with the media when this trial started, we are there in part – not fully – but in part because of grossly irresponsible handling of what comes out of this trial.”

The judge also said on Wednesday that he will reconsider allowing televised trials in his courtroom in future proceedings.