PITTSBURGH – A jury acquitted a white former police officer Friday within the deadly taking pictures of an unarmed black teenager as he was fleeing a high-stakes site visitors cease outdoors Pittsburgh, a confrontation that was captured on video and led to weeks of unrest.
Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld was charged with murder for killing Antwon Rose II final June. Rose was driving in an unlicensed taxi that had been concerned in a drive-by taking pictures when Rosfeld pulled the automobile over and shot the 17-year-old within the again, arm and aspect of the face as he ran away.
The panel of seven males and 5 ladies — together with three black jurors — noticed footage of the deadly confrontation, which confirmed Rose falling to the bottom after being hit. The acquittal got here after fewer than 4 hours of deliberations on the fourth day of the trial.
Rose’s household remained stoic as the decision was learn, along with his mom telling his sister to not cry. Rosfeld’s spouse started sobbing, and he or she and Rosfeld have been hustled out of the courtroom by deputies.
There have been tears and gasps in an overflow courtroom, and several other folks broke out in track: “Antwon Rose was a freedom fighter, and he taught us methods to battle.”
Outdoors, dozens of protesters chanted: “Say his identify: Antwon Rose the Second.”
The Rose household’s lawyer, S. Lee Merritt, had urged a homicide conviction, saying earlier than closing arguments that it is “fairly apparent” Rose was not a risk to Rosfeld. He stated the household would make a press release in regards to the verdict on Monday.
Rose’s demise — one among many high-profile killings of black males and teenagers by white cops lately — spurred offended protests within the Pittsburgh space final yr, together with a late-night march that shut down a serious freeway.
Protection lawyer Patrick Thomassey instructed reporters after the decision that Rosfeld is “a great man, he’s.” He stated he hoped the town remained calm, and “everyone takes a deep breath and will get on with their lives.”
At trial, the prosecution and the protection sparred over whether or not Rosfeld — who’d labored for the East Pittsburgh Police Division for only some weeks and was formally sworn in simply hours earlier than the deadly taking pictures — was justified in utilizing deadly pressure.
Assistant District Legal professional Jonathan Fodi declared in his closing argument that Rosfeld had acted as “choose, jury and executioner,” and the video proof confirmed “there was no risk” to the officer.
“We do not shoot first and ask questions later,” the prosecutor added.
However the former officer instructed the jury he thought Rose or one other suspect had a gun pointed at him, insisting he fired his weapon to guard himself and the group. Neither teen was holding one when Rosfeld opened fireplace, although two weapons have been later discovered within the automobile.
“It occurred in a short time,” Rosfeld stated. “My intent was to finish the risk that was made in opposition to me.”
A protection skilled testified Rosfeld was inside his rights to make use of lethal pressure to cease suspects he thought had been concerned in a taking pictures.
Rose had been driving within the entrance seat of the cab when one other occupant, Zaijuan Hester, within the again, rolled down a window and shot at two males on the road, hitting one within the stomach. A couple of minutes later, Rosfeld noticed their automobile, which had its rear windshield shot out, and pulled it over. Rosfeld ordered the driving force to the bottom, however Rose and one other passenger jumped out and commenced working away. Rosfeld fired thrice in fast succession.
The protection stated the taking pictures was justified as a result of Rosfeld believed he was in peril and could not look ahead to different officers to get there.
“He is a sitting duck,” Thomassey instructed jurors in his closing argument, asking them to think about “the usual of what an inexpensive police officer would do underneath the circumstances.”
Prosecutors had charged Rosfeld with an open rely of murder, which means the jury had the choice of convicting him of homicide or manslaughter. The prosecution stated Rosfeld gave inconsistent statements in regards to the taking pictures, together with whether or not he thought Rose was armed.
Hester, 18, pleaded responsible final week to aggravated assault and firearms violations. Hester instructed a choose that he, not Rose, did the taking pictures.