Pittsburgh-area ex-cop acquitted in killing of unarmed black teen
A jury has acquitted a white former police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in the back as he was fleeing a high-stakes traffic stop outside Pittsburgh, a confrontation that was captured on video and led to weeks of unrest.
Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld was charged with homicide in the shooting of Antwon Rose II during a traffic stop last June. Rose was riding in an unlicensed taxi that had been involved in a drive-by shooting when Rosfeld pulled the car over and shot the 17-year-old in the back, arm and side of the face as he ran away.
The panel of seven men and five women – including three black jurors – saw video of the fatal confrontation, which showed Rose falling to the ground after being hit. The acquittal came this evening after fewer than four hours of deliberations on the fourth day of the trial.
The Rose family’s attorney, S. Lee Merritt, had urged a murder conviction, saying before closing arguments that it’s “pretty obvious” Rose was not a threat to Rosfeld.
Rose’s death – one of many high-profile killings of black men and teens by white police officers in recent years – spurred protests in the Pittsburgh area last year, including a late-night march that shut down a major highway.
On Friday, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Fodi declared in his closing argument that Rosfeld had acted as “judge, jury and executioner,”
But the former officer told a jury he thought Rose or another suspect had a gun, insisting he fired his weapon to protect himself and the community.
At trial, the prosecution and the defense sparred over whether Rosfeld – who’d worked for the East Pittsburgh Police Department for only a few weeks and was officially sworn in just hours before the fatal shooting – was justified in using lethal force.