An East Pittsburgh police officer was charged with criminal homicide in the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose Jr. after admitting to investigators he did not see a gun when the teen ran away following a traffic stop.
Rose, 17, was shot three times by Officer Michael Rosfeld on June 19.
“Antwon Rose did not do anything in North Braddock other than being in that vehicle,” Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Initially, Rosfeld told cops that he saw “something dark that he perceived as a gun,” according to the criminal complaint released Wednesday.
“This observation caused him to step from behind the cover of his car door to acquire a better view,” the complaint read. “He then fired his weapon.”
However, when asked to go over the sequence of events again, Rosfeld told investigators that he did not see a weapon “when the passenger emerged and ran.”
When asked about the inconsistency, the officer said he saw something in Rose’s hand “but was not sure what it was.”
Court records reveal that Rosfeld was arrested Wednesday and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 6.
A person is guilty of criminal homicide if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently cause the death of another human being. Zappala said Rosfeld could be charged with first-degree or third-degree murder.
“It’s an intentional act, and there’s no justification for it,” he said.
Two guns were found in the vehicle that Rose fled, but the teen was unarmed. He raised his arms before he ran away in an effort to signal he did not have a gun, Zappala said.
“You can’t take somebody’s life under these circumstances,” the DA said.
Zappala said that they don’t believe Rose fired a gun that night.
The vehicle was pulled over because cops suspected it was involved in a drive-by shooting earlier that night. Zaijuan Hester, another teen who fled the vehicle, was arrested Monday night and charged Wednesday with aggravated assault and attempted criminal homicide related to the drive-by shooting.
Officer Rosfeld worked for the University of Pittsburgh police until early this year. The officer had been placed on administrative leave after the shooting.
The arrest comes two days after Rose’s funeral.
“Who did this? The police did this!” marchers chanted during a recent rally. “Three shots to the back, how do you justify that?”
Protesters have taken to the streets nearly every day since the shooting, with the exception of the day of Rose’s funeral.
“This isn’t a hobby,” protest leader Nicki Jo Dawson said earlier this week. “We do this to get justice we’ve never seen. In this courthouse, there’s a man who refuses to indict an (officer) for killing one of our children. Not today.”