Michelle Kenney, left, the mother of Antwon Rose II, leaves the Allegheny County Courthouse with her attorney S. Lee Merritt, right, after day two of the trial for Michael Rosfeld, a former police officer in East Pittsburgh, Pa., Wednesday, 20 March 2019. Rosfeld is charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II as he fled during a traffic stop on June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH – After prosecutors wrapped up their case, the attorney for a white former police officer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager asked a judge Thursday to issue an acquittal of murder charges.
Former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld shot and killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose II after pulling over a car that is likely to have been involved in a drive-by shooting. Rose was a passenger in the unauthorized cab and was shot as he fled.
Prosecutors charged Rosfeld with an open count of murder, which means that the jury has the possibility of a condemnation of him in the first-degree murder in the third degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.
Lawyer Patrick Thomassey asked the judge to clear Rosfeld of murder, saying the prosecutors failed to show that he acted with malice as required under the law. Thomassey made its motion after the plaintiffs rested their case.
“What we have is a police officer doing his duty. There is no hardness of heart is necessary for the first or third degree murder,” Thomassey said. “We have a series of three photos in one second on a fleeing felon and we’re going to charge him with murder? It’s not fair.”
Prosecutor Daniel Fitzsimmons said the fact that Rosfeld shot a took flight in the back was evidence of bad faith.
Even if the judge ruled in the defense’s favor, Rosfeld could still be sentenced for manslaughter.
The judge said he would rule later Thursday.
The prosecutors ended their case by calling three expert witnesses to the stand, including firearms, an analyst who matched one of the bullets recovered from Rose’s body to Rosfeld the gun — a formality, because it is not in dispute that Rosfeld fire the fatal shots.
Raymond Everett from the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office also said that members of the jury who two guns with extended magazines were recovered from the car.
Rose had ridden in the passenger seat of the illegal taxi when Zaijuan Hester, on the back seat, a window rolled down and shot at two men on the street. Rosfeld pulled the car minutes later.
Hester pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated assault and firearms violations for the shooting, in which a man wounded in the abdomen. The 18-year-old told a judge that he is not Rose, so did the shooting.
A neighbor shot video of Rosfeld the fatal encounter with Rose that was played for the jury. The video was posted online, which led to protests in the Pittsburgh area last year.