Why didn’t prosecutors and police more thoroughly investigate “Jump Kick Man”? They have subpoena powers to prove or disprove the claims.
Melody Price Freeland, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Maurice Freeland – the Kenosha felon who is suspected of being “Jump Kick Man” in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial – claimed to Wisconsin Right Now in an exclusive interview that Maurice allegedly told her right after the shooting occurred, “You’re not going to believe what just happened; I almost got shot by a dude.”
“He was all proud of it. He was all excited and happy,” said Melody, the mother of Maurice’s 7-year-old child, in exclusive interviews with Wisconsin Right Now on Nov. 17-18. She said she was speaking out because she believes what he did was “wrong” and all facts should be known about the case.
Melody’s adult daughter, Jessica Ramirez, backed her up on this point. “The picture was all over Facebook. He bragged all over Facebook that he was the one who kicked Kyle. It’s definitely him.” (There’s not much visible to non-friends on his pages now.) Both Melody and Ramirez said they recognize the clothing he wore in the photo too.
Melody provided new alleged details that, while unproven, seem like something the prosecution would want to vet and either debunk or verify: most dramatically, she alleged to Wisconsin Right Now that Maurice posted on Facebook shortly before the shooting, writing, as she recalled it, “@Team Reese, let’s kill that white boy” with emojis of a gun and coffin. Maurice Freeland’s nickname is Reese, which is verified by his Facebook pages. She could not provide rock-solid proof of this, however, beyond her memory.
We spoke with Melody twice by phone and then met with her in person at her home in Kenosha, not far from where the jury continued to deliberate charges, including one charge accusing Rittenhouse of recklessly endangered the safety of the man both prosecutors and defense said was unknown and called “Jump Kick Man.”
Yet, we’ve learned that people close to Freeland widely believed he was Jump Kick Man right after the shooting happened, and it was discussed openly on Facebook. We heard that from four people who know him. Melody says the police and prosecutors never bothered to talk to her, even though she is the mother of his child and still his wife. Minimally, it raises questions of how thorough the police investigation was (remember they missed half of the ballistics evidence in the Joseph Rosenbaum shooting).
Wouldn’t it be important to vet such a key player? “Jump Kick Man” delivered quite a kick to Rittenhouse. This is on video. He was the second person Rittenhouse shot at and the first after Rittenhouse fell in the street; Rittenhouse, then 17, shot Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz seconds later.
There’s no doubt that Jump Kick Man was attacking Rittenhouse, but prosecutors and the defense attorneys disagree over whether Rittenhouse had the legal right to use self-defense. It seemed bizarre from the start that this man was still “unknown” and instead gifted with a colorful nickname in court in such a contentious and important trial.
Even the judge referred to him as “Jump Kick Man” and the jury instructions say he’s an unknown man. The criminal complaint against Rittenhouse did too. It’s even more bizarre now.
When did prosecutors learn Maurice claimed to be Jump Kick Man? That remains unclear. We now have three sources in a position to know, however, who confirm that prosecutors told the defense only last Thursday, November 11, 2021, on the day testimony closed. They said that Maurice James Freeland, 39, of Kenosha, had come forward claiming he was Jump Kick Man; it’s not clear when he first came forward, and Melody did not know.
He wanted immunity for pending charges (OWI, with a passenger under age 16; disorderly conduct with a domestic abuse modifier; and THC possession), the sources said (Melody says the OWI involves their young son). Prosecutors did not grant the immunity request, and he was never called to testify by either side. They’ve described Jump Kick Man and the others as heroic figures who intervened after Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, who was chasing him into a corner of a car lot.
Melody had some dramatic claims.
Asked whether she knew if the white boy comment referred to Rittenhouse, she said, “I don’t, to be honest.” But she said a “half-hour after he said it,” he was allegedly kicking Rittenhouse.
Melody also claims that Maurice expressed that he was upset about white men with rifles earlier that night. She says he later deleted the message and that they also spoke by phone that night.
Facebook generally wants law enforcement to act fast when making subpoena requests. Clearly, if such a statement were actually made, it would upend the narrative that Rittenhouse was the “racist” attacker; the defense is already arguing that the first man shot (and killed), Joseph Rosenbaum had made two threats to kill Rittenhouse. Prosecutors say they don’t believe that.
Her old phone was sitting on the counter but was spidered and almost unusable. She wasn’t able to produce many messages from Maurice on her other phone, whom she doesn’t seem very close to anymore and doesn’t have a positive opinion of.
“That’s my husband in those pictures,” Melody said emphatically of the Jump Kick Man photos (she and Maurice have a pending divorce, but it hasn’t gone through yet. He appeared at one October hearing from the Kenosha jail, but the jail says he was released Oct. 24.)
“He was proud of it. I’m surprised he didn’t frame it.”
Asked if she had any doubts he was Jump Kick Man, she said, “None at all. I bought the Levis he has on his as*. He is wearing North Face or the Polo that my son got him prior to that. My son got the matching one. That is Maurice, hands down.”
Perhaps, as with Joshua Ziminski, neither side thought he would be helpful enough to them; however, Rittenhouse is facing 17.5 years in prison on the charge of first-degree recklessly endangering safety in the shooting of Jump Kick Man (he missed); jurors were told throughout the trial and again in instructions that he was “unknown” and not identified. What if he had video?
What if police recovered the message “@Team Reese, let’s kill that white boy” and showed it was posted a half-hour before the shooting? How might that have changed the narrative?
Is it possible the police and state had immediately made up their minds that Rittenhouse was the bad guy and the other men involved his victims, and thus not worthy of extensive scrutiny, despite their lengthy criminal histories in some cases (true also of Maurice) and behavior toward the defendant (attacking and/or chasing him on video in some cases)?
Prosecutors, of course, had a subpoena for the phone of Gaige Grosskreutz, the man who was shot in the arm right after Rittenhouse missed Jump Kick Man, but they decided not to search it because of a victims’ rights amendment. Was the lack of curiosity surrounding Jump Kick Man’s identity part of this narrative? It’s hard to know. Prosecutors did not return our email.
We did what no one else had, though; we tracked down the woman who has been among those closest to Freeland over the years (they share a child together), and we made an extensive attempt to reach Freeland himself (we are still trying on the latter).
To be clear, we have not been able to verify Melody’s account of that post with anyone else or get a copy of it, so you can make of that claim what you will; however, we were able to find some verification for other things she said; a relative of Melody’s told us she knew Melody and Maurice talked by phone the night of the shootings, for example.
That relative, an unrelated friend, and Melody’s adult daughter, Jessica Ramirez, all said that it was widely known in Maurice’s Facebook circles that Maurice was likely Jump Kick Man from the start because someone tagged him in a photo of Jump Kick Man kicking Rittenhouse shortly after that picture emerged publicly, and he responded to that post in a way that indicated he was likely Jump Kick Man.
Only Ramirez and Melody would let us use their names. The other relative confirmed that Melody had voiced her conviction that Maurice was Jump Kick Man a year ago when the photo first emerged.
“She said it was him,” that relative said. “People were laughing about it and saying, ‘Reese, you’re famous,’ the same day. I said, ‘It looks exactly like him.” She recalled him posting after the shooting about being shot at by a “white boy.”
“It was everywhere,” she said.
Melody contacted some of these people spontaneously in front of us, and they did not appear to know she would be calling.
Ramirez, for example, said she saw comments Maurice allegedly put on Facebook after the shooting, after the photo came out, in which he also referred to Rittenhouse as a “white boy” and wrote something to the effect of, “That’s what the white boy gets. He shouldn’t have been trying to shoot me.” She didn’t see the “kill white boy” comment, however, although she didn’t dispute that it was possible.
Melody said she saw the after-the-shooting comment too but said she is “112%” sure that Maurice also wrote the “kill white boy” comment BEFORE the shooting. We pressed her on whether she might be mixing up the two comments, and she was absolutely adamant that she was not.
“The picture was all over Facebook,” Ramirez told Wisconsin Right Now of the Jump Kick Man picture. “That night, he bragged all over Facebook.” She verified: “My mom spoke to him during the rioting that night.” Ramirez said she remembered her mother refusing to let Maurice come get their son because he was “part of the riots.”
The four people who were part of this discussion each indicated it was widely known that Maurice was Jump Kick Man a year ago. Melody gave us the names of people she believed he was hanging out with that night and was able to unearth an old message in which he indicated knowing Jacob Blake.
“He was talking about a group of men and guys, saying he was going to kill those white f***ers, and then I’m going to kill that white boy,” Melody told Wisconsin Right Now exclusively. “He called me and said he was shot at. He said, ‘Hey I almost got shot, man, that white mother f***er almost shot me.”
Once the photo came out, she said she spoke to him again. “I said to him, ‘So, I see you’ve become popular now. Nice drop kick there, pal. He said, ‘The dude deserved it. He shouldn’t have been out there; he shouldn’t have been there. If he is going to come here to my town, I am going to teach him not to come to my town.”
In court, Rittenhouse has claimed self-defense, but prosecutors charged Rittenhouse with first-degree recklessly endangering the safety. Prosecutor Thomas Binger claimed in court that the crowd, including Jump Kick Man, whom he said was “unknown,” had a right to stop an “active shooter,” but Melody says that Maurice never referred to Rittenhouse as an active shooter.
“He’s not the victim here,” she said. “Reese is an instigator.”
There are open child support and divorce cases involving Maurice and Melody, but the stakes don’t seem very high as custody doesn’t seem to be an issue, and he’s spent so much time in jail that support seems minimal.
There is a child support case involving Melody and Maurice from 2016 that has had recent hearings involving his paying of child support throughout 2021. In August 2021, there was a hearing in that case, and he was ordered to pay $1 a month for repayment of arrears because he was incarcerated.
Melody, who has no criminal history in Wisconsin, owns a small business and is the mother of Maurice’s small child.
We asked Melody for a screenshot of the Facebook post, but she said she didn’t have one. She was able to provide a Facebook message from the day before the shooting between them indicating he knew Jacob Blake (“that’s my guy,” he wrote in part). The wall of their son’s bedroom contains pictures of Maurice and she showed us many photos of them together.
We went out looking for her and, when word got back to her and she saw our story that reported prosecutors told the defense team Maurice Freeland had claimed to be Jump Kick man, she emailed us. In other words, she wasn’t seeking attention; she contacted us when she heard we were looking for her.
We were told by one of our sources that police were not able to definitively prove Freeland was Jump Kick Man with technology because he was wearing a mask so facial recognition software wasn’t usable.
Jump Kick Man
After Rittenhouse shot Joseph Rosenbaum, he ran down the street and fell to the ground. That’s when Jump Kick Man enters the frame, and he rushes Rittenhouse and delivers quite a kick, perhaps to his head. It’s one of the most memorable images of the entire incident. Prosecutors say Rittenhouse shot at him and missed. Anthony Huber then entered the scene, rushing Rittenhouse, hitting him over the head with a skateboard, and trying to grab his gun, video shows. Rittenhouse shot and killed him.
Gaige Grosskreutz then, according to his testimony, pointed a gun at Rittenhouse while advancing toward him; he too was shot but survived. Prosecutors charged Rittenhouse with the deaths of Rosenbaum and Huber, with wounding Grosskreutz, and with endangering the safety of a reporter, Richie McGinniss, and…. Jump Kick Man.
We have made many attempts to reach Maurice Freeland himself.
We called the phone number Melody provided for him several times and left a message but never heard back. We knocked on the door of the home listed in jail records for him, and where Melody thinks he lives with a new girlfriend, but the woman who answered said she didn’t talk to him anymore, as she peered through the top glass in the door. We left our card. We tried to talk to him in the jail, but officials there said their website was wrong to say he was in custody and that he was released October 24. We also visited several other addresses attached to Freeland in court and data mining records, but he wasn’t there, either. (If Maurice Freeland is reading this, please email us at [email protected].) Maurice Freeland, it seems, is in the wind. Or he doesn’t want to talk.
Melody confirmed he was not shot in the incident.
Asked why he was down there that night, she said, “He loved to belong. He stands down there with his buddies.”
“That unknown man, that’s Maurice,” she said, confirming she believes he’s Jump Kick Man.
She said she didn’t come forward until she saw our story because she didn’t realize it was significant, since he wasn’t shot. “I would have said something a long time ago if I knew it was going to anywhere,” she said.
Ramirez said that Maurice “wanted to be part of the rioting when it first started. He said it was part of his culture. He wanted to stand up for Black Lives Matter.” She claimed he said he wanted to “get whatever he could get.”
She said that another woman tagged him in a photo of the moment Jump Kick Man rushes Rittenhouse, on Facebook, and said something to the effect of, “You go Reese… my boy is too proud to say it.” That happened shortly after the shooting. The three other people we heard from about all of this also remember that Facebook post although no one remembers the real name of the woman who they say shared it.
Melody said she sent the photo to him with a comment, and he made it clear it was him. “That’s him,” she said.
“People were feeling sorry for him,” she said of the reaction from his circle after the Rittenhouse shooting
She said she knew him 11 years and was married 4.5 to him.
She said that he called her earlier that night before the shooting as well. “He said, if you hear about me, that I am dead, these white mother f***ers are walking around here with f***ing rifles and shotguns thinking they’re the sh**,” she said. “He went off. About a half-hour later he called me and said he was almost shot.”
She added that he was “down there with all of the Black Lives Matter people.”
Melody said Maurice allegedly “drop kicked him (Rittenhouse).”
She said he looked like a “dam* idiot out there.” The next day “boom he sent me a picture.” That was the one of Jump Kick Man kicking Rittenhouse. She said, “Nice. You’re an idiot. I’m not showing our son this.”
She thinks Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. “Yes, he had a rifle, but he’s down on the ground,” she said. “I’m not on Maurice’s side. He was wrong.”
If she were Rittenhouse, she said, “I would feel threatened for my life with a crowd of people chasing me and hitting me and drop-kicking me.”