Officer charged in death of black teen
A white police officer was charged Wednesday with homicide in the death of an unarmed black teenager who was shot in the back while fleeing a traffic stop, a shooting that has fueled daily protests around Pittsburgh.
Prosecutors cited officer Michael Rosfeld’s inconsistent statements about whether he saw a gun in the teen’s hand.
The officer first told investigators that the teen turned his hand toward him when he ran from the car, and the officer “saw something dark he perceived as a gun,” according to the criminal complaint .
During a second recap of last week’s shooting, Rosfeld told investigators he did not see a gun, and he was not sure if the teen’s arm was pointed at him when he fired at 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr.
The 30-year-old officer had been sworn in just hours before the June 19 shooting in East Pittsburgh, a small town near the city, after working at the police department for a couple weeks. After being charged, he turned himself in and was released on $250,000 bond.
Criminal homicide is a broad category that includes manslaughter and murder. Pennsylvania prosecutors typically specify what subsection of homicide they will pursue later in the case.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said his office planned to ask a jury to consider the highest charge of first-degree murder. He argued against releasing Rosfeld on bail.
“You do not shoot someone in the back if they are not a threat to you,” Zappala said.
The car Rose was in had been stopped on suspicion of involvement in a drive-by shooting. But investigators determined that Rose had done nothing “except be in the car,” he said.
Zappala said witnesses described Rose as showing his hands before the shooting, stressing that he did not have a weapon.