Michael Rosfeld, the former police officer who fatally shot 17-year old Antwon Rose II three times in the back, has been found not guilty of all charges by a jury last Friday. At his trial, Rosfeld testified he shot the unarmed Black teen because he felt threatened and he thought he saw a gun pointed at him.
Rosfeld, who is 30-years old, faced one criminal homicide charge after gunning down Rose when he tried to flee during a traffic stop.
A video recorded by one of the witnesses showed Rose running from Rosfeld which indicated he was “causing him no danger whatsoever,” Prosecutor Dan Fitzsimmons told jurors. Rosfeld, on the other hand, claimed he thought he saw a gun and demonstrated the hand motions he said he thought was a threat before he fired three shots to Rose.
Rosfeld testified he pulled over an unlicensed taxi which matched the description of a car involved in a drive-by shooting. The car Rose was riding had its rear windshield shattered with bullet holes when he called in a traffic stop. He said that after ordering the driver to the ground, Rose and another passenger, identified as then 17 years old Zaijuan Hester, went out of the car and began to run.
“It happened very quickly,” Rosfeld said. “My intent was to end the threat that was made against me. I just wanted to end the threat to me. I followed the threat and fired. I just saw that person moving, so I assumed the threat was still there.”
Prosecutors claim Rosfeld provided inconsistent statements regarding the shooting, including whether or not he was sure if what he saw Rose was holding was a gun.
Several witnesses testified that Rosfeld became distraught when he realized he had killed Rose. A witness said that he heard Rosfeld sobbing while saying, “Why did he do that? Why did he take that out of his pocket?” Another witness said the officer repeatedly uttered, “I don’t know why I shot him. I don’t know why I fired.”
The jury was initially instructed to consider first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, which could have him sentenced to life in prison if convicted. However, after a three-and-a-half day hearing, the jury decided Rosfeld is not guilty on all counts.
Many have shown their disapproval of the verdict. Several demonstrators gathered to protest about the police’s use of deadly force against unarmed youth.
Meanwhile, S. Lee Merritt, the lawyer for the Rose family, said that the verdict is not yet the end of the fight for the family.
“It will have to be challenged, in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. It will have to continue to be challenged on a federal level,” he told CNN.