Demonstrators march through Pittsburgh day after Rosfeld found not guilty – Tarentum Valley News Dispatch

Demonstrators march through Pittsburgh day after Rosfeld found not guilty - Tarentum Valley News Dispatch
Protests held in Pittsburgh after cop cleared in shooting
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The day after a jury found Michael Rosfeld not guilty of homicide in the shooting and killing of 17-year Antwon Rose II has brought mixed reactions.

An overnight shooting at Rosfelds attorneys office after not guilty ruling

The heads of two of the city’s most powerful philanthropic institutions shared in the shock and outrage that brought people into the streets Friday night while an online fundraiser set up to help Rosfeld with legal fees thanked people for their support.

“What we have is a police officer doing his duty. Theres not a hardness of heart required for first- or third-degree murder,” Thomassey argued in court. “We have a burst of three shots in one second on a fleeing felon and were going to charge him with murder? Its not fair.”

Rosfeld was charged with one count of homicide for killing Rose on June 19 as the teen ran from a felony traffic stop. Jurors spent less than four hours deliberating Friday before clearing him of any wrongdoing.

A prosecution witness has said that after the shooting, he heard Rosfeld say repeatedly, “I dont know why I shot him. I dont know why I fired.” But another prosecution witness said he heard the officer ask, “Why did he do that? Why did he take that out of his pocket?”

A rally that kicked off at Freedom Corner in the Hill District continued throughout Downtown Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon. Here are updates from the demonstrations.

Rosfeld testified the car that Rose was riding in had its rear windshield shot out. He chirped his siren and turned on his police lights, and the driver complied and pulled over. Rosfeld said he got out of his car with his gun drawn and ordered the driver to the ground.

• Rosfeld acquittal leaves a relieved wife in tears and a mother indignant • Gunshots fired into Monroeville office of Rosfelds lawyer • Rosfelds testimony appeared to sway jury, experts say • Michael Rosfeld not guilty of homicide in killing of Antwon Rose II

Asked by his attorney, Patrick Thomassey, why he fired his gun and did not simply let the suspects get away, Rosfeld said: “Because I thought one of them was pointing a weapon at me. They were dangerous felon suspects. They had just fired a gun at someone.”

Pittsburgh Public Safety tweeted that rolling road closures were continuing as the demostrations moved on throughout Downtown.

Video: Protests erupt in Pittsburgh following Antwon Rose verdict

Just before 5 p.m., Public Safety said the Downtown demonstrations had ended peacefully and traffic flow was resuming as normal.

The demonstration was making its way back uptown toward PPG Paints Arena after spending some time around the Allegheny County Courthouse.

And in 2017, a former South Carolina patrolman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing an unarmed motorist. The officer pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges following a state trial at which he testified and the jury deadlocked.

Members of Focus Pittsburgh’s trauma response team were in Braddock and East Pittsburgh today talking to residents and offering support in the wake of Friday’s acquittal of Michael Rosfeld.

In October, a Chicago jury convicted former officer Jason Van Dyke of murder in the shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald. After the trial, jurors said Van Dykes testimony hurt his defense. Van Dyke got fewer than seven years in prison.

Members of Focus Pittsburghs trauma response team have been out in Braddock and East Pittsburgh today talking to residents and offering support in the wake of Fridays acquittal of the police officer who fatally shot Antwon Rose II during a traffic stop last year. pic.twitter.com/RoBsYGh6mg

Volunteers from #FocusPGH are engaging with residents and talking about gun violence, community needs, and Antwon Rose II, in North Braddock and East Pittsburgh this afternoon – with @ByRenatta @TribLIVE #AntwonRose pic.twitter.com/wp2OgvhUUF

The former officer testified after the prosecution rested its case earlier Thursday. Prosecutors said Rosfeld gave inconsistent statements about the shooting, including whether he thought Rose had a gun.

Heading to the courthouse where Michael Rosfeld was acquitted of homicide last night in the 2018 death of Antwon Rose II. pic.twitter.com/RmHridrFat

Prosecutors charged Rosfeld with an open count of homicide, meaning the jury can convict Rosfeld of murder or manslaughter. The defense argued a murder charge wasnt appropriate in the case.

“Mike was acquitted on all counts. We are beyond words in regards to the support we have received from the community. We truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” a post on the Funded Justice page for Rosfeld read Saturday.

Rosfelds decision to testify wasnt unusual. At least three other white officers charged in the on-duty fatal shootings of black people have taken the witness stand in recent years.

The fundraiser page appears to have been started by Rosfeld’s wife, Michelle. The page has raised more than $17,000.

Maxwell King, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and Grant Oliphant, president of The Heinz Endowments, released a joint statement on the verdict Saturday.

PITTSBURGH — A white former police officer said Thursday he thought a weapon was pointed at him when he shot and killed an unarmed black teenager outside Pittsburgh last summer.

”Pittsburgh now sadly joins a disturbing and ever-growing catalogue of cases across the United States where law enforcement or security officials have walked free after the killings of young black men under questionable circumstances,” they wrote.

Demonstrating for the jury what threatening gesture he believed he saw, Rosfeld stood up, raised his right arm to shoulder length and fully extended it as if pointing a weapon.

“America is strewn with too many examples of how the poor are betrayed, how African Americans are disfavored and how immigrants are abused. This only adds to the heartbreak and deep sense of injustice that now hangs heavy over our city,” they wrote. “Pittsburgh now has the unwelcome notoriety of having its name added to a list of troubling incidents across America where the dispensing of justice has been less than convincing following the deaths of young black men. And there are questions that must be urgently addressed, locally and nationally, concerning police behavior, law enforcement recruitment and police officer training.”

Prosecutor Daniel Fitzsimmons said the fact that Rosfeld shot a fleeing Rose in the back was evidence of malice, and the judge ruled the murder counts would stand.

Staff writer Renatta Signorini contributed. Megan Guza is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

Rose had been riding in the front seat of the cab when Hester, in the backseat, rolled down a window and shot at two men on the street, hitting one in the abdomen.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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Hester, 18, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated assault and firearms violations. Hester told a judge that he, not Rose, did the shooting.

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Earlier Thursday, Judge Alexander Bicket rejected a defense motion to acquit Rosfeld on the murder counts he faces.

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Rosfeld, 30, got choked up and dabbed away tears as he recounted finding the mortally wounded Rose on the ground.

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Marchers move through the streets Saturday, March 23, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pa. The group was calling for justice the day after former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld was acquitted in the homicide trial where he was charged with shooting and killing 17-year-old Antwon Rose II last summer near Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH – The father of a slain black teenager pleaded for peace Saturday after the acquittal of a white police officer triggered an apparent retaliatory shooting at the defense attorney's office and touched off protests in the streets of Pittsburgh.

The verdict late Friday in the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II angered his family and civic leaders and prompted hundreds of people to gather Saturday afternoon at an intersection called Freedom Corner in the Hill District neighborhood, the historic center of black cultural life in Pittsburgh. One man held a sign with the names of black men killed by police around the U.S.

"It's very painful to see what happened, to sit there and deal with it," Rose's father, Antwon Rose Sr., told the crowd. "I just don't want it to happen to our city no more."

Afterward, he told reporters: "I want peace, period, all the way around. … Just because there was violence doesn't mean that we counter that with violence."

The mostly white crowd then marched through downtown Pittsburgh and other city neighborhoods, periodically blocking streets as they chanted, "Who did this? Police did this!" The protest soon moved onto the University of Pittsburgh campus. Police reported no immediate arrests or injuries.

Early Saturday, five to eight shots were fired into the building where the officer's attorney, Patrick Thomassey, works, police in nearby Monroeville said. No one was hurt. Police said they had been staking out the place as a precaution, and the gunfire erupted after they left to answer another call around midnight.

Former East Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Rosfeld had been charged with homicide for shooting Rose as the unarmed teenager ran away from a traffic stop in June. Rosfeld testified that he thought Rose or another suspect had a gun pointed at him and that he fired to protect himself and the community.

"I hope that man never sleeps at night," Rose's mother, Michelle Kenney, said of Rosfeld after the verdict, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I hope he gets as much sleep as I do, which is none."

Rose's family is now pressing ahead with a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Rosfeld and East Pittsburgh, a small municipality about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from downtown Pittsburgh, where the trial was held.

Attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represents Rose's mother in the litigation, said the verdict was based on Pennsylvania law regarding the use of force that he considers unconstitutional.

"The protest is an appropriate response to injustice," Merritt said, adding that he believes the state law is why jurors reached their verdict of acquittal.

He also called the shots at Rosfeld's attorney's office "an act of cowardice and barbarism that does nothing but perpetuate the stereotypes often used to justify police brutality."

Thomassey told reporters after the verdict that Rosfeld is "a good man, he is." The defense attorney said he hopes the city remains calm and "everybody takes a deep breath and gets on with their lives."

The leaders of two major Pittsburgh charities issued a statement expressing "shock and outrage" over the verdict.

"Pittsburgh now sadly joins a disturbing and ever-growing catalogue of cases across the United States where law enforcement or security officials have walked free after the killings of young black men under questionable circumstances," wrote Maxwell King, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation, and Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments.

"We have asked the question, 'Would Antwon Rose be alive today if he had been white?' We, his family and African American community leaders believe that more than likely he would be."

Pittsburgh was in the spotlight less than five months ago, when a gunman ranting about Jews killed 11 people at a synagogue.

Rose was riding in an unlicensed taxi that had been involved in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier when Rosfeld pulled the car over and shot the teenager in the back, arm and side of the face. Neither Rose nor another teen in the taxi was holding a weapon when the officer opened fire, though two guns were later found in the vehicle.

Rosfeld had worked for the East Pittsburgh Police Department for only a few weeks and was sworn in just hours before the shooting.

The 12-person jury — including three black members — saw video of the fatal confrontation. The jury took less than four hours to reach a verdict.

Prosecutor Jonathan Fodi argued that the video showed there was no threat to the officer. But a defense expert testified Rosfeld was within his rights to use deadly force to stop suspects he thought had been involved in a shooting.

The prosecution did not call its own use-of-force expert, a decision the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania questioned. But Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said prosecutors were confident they had what they needed to make their case.

Shortly before the traffic stop, another person in the taxi, Zaijuan Hester, rolled down a window and shot at two men on the street, hitting one in the abdomen. Hester, 18, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated assault and firearms violations. He said he, not Rose, did the shooting.

Prosecutors had charged Rosfeld with an open count of homicide, meaning the jury had the option of convicting him of murder or manslaughter.

Associated Press journalists Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania, Ramesh Santanam in Pittsburgh and Keith Srakocic in Pittsburgh contributed to this story.

This story has been corrected to show that shots were fired into the lawyer's building early Saturday, not early Friday.


Posted in Pittsburgh