The judge presiding over the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on Thursday banned MSNBC employees from the courthouse, saying someone who identified himself as a producer for the network was caught following a bus carrying jurors.
Judge Bruce Schroeder made the announcement in court on Thursday as the jury deliberated for a third day over whether Rittenhouse, 17, is guilty of felony charges in the shooting deaths of two people and wounding of another during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse claims self-defense.
The judge said a man named James Morrison was stopped by police Wednesday evening after he ran a red light while driving behind the jury bus.
“He stated that he had been instructed by [a producer] in New York to follow the jury bus,” Schroeder said in court.
“I’ve instructed that no one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” the judge continued. “This is a very serious matter, and I don’t know what the ultimate truth is, but absolutely it goes without much thinking that someone following the jury bus … that is a very, extremely serious matter and will be referred to the upper authorities for further action.”
The Kenosha Police Department said in a statement that the individual was “briefly taken into custody and issued several traffic related citations.”
“Police suspect this person was trying to photograph jurors,” the department said on Twitter. The department added in a later tweet that there was “no breach of security regarding the jury” and no jurors were photographed.
NBC News, the parent company of MSNBC, said in a statement that the person involved was a freelancer who had no intention of following the jury bus.
“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 network said. “We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.”