Demonstrators move through the streets Saturday, March 23, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pa. The group called for justice on the day after the former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld was acquitted in the murder trial, where he was charged with shooting and killing the 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 on Saturday after the acquittal of a white policeman, gave rise to an apparent retaliation to shooting of defense attorney’s office and touched off the protests in the streets of Pittsburgh.
The police put officers on 12-hour shifts until further notice.
The ruling late Friday in the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II angry family, and civic leaders, and prompted hundreds of people to gather Saturday afternoon on a crossroads called Freedom Corner in the Hill District neighborhood, the historic center of black cultural life in Pittsburgh. A man held a sign with the names of black men killed by police in the US
“It is very painful to see what happened, to sit there and go,” Rose’s father, Antwon Rose, Sr., told the crowd. “I just don’t want it to happen in our city no more.”
Then, he told reporters: “I want peace, period, all the way around. … But because there is violence doesn’t mean that we are against that with violence.”
The mostly white crowd then marched through downtown Pittsburgh and other city districts, periodically, the blocking of streets, they chanted, “Who has done this? The police did this!” The protest soon moved to the University of Pittsburgh campus. The police reported no immediate arrests or injuries.
Early Saturday, five to eight shots were fired in the building where the officer of justice, Patrick Thomassey, works with the police in Monroeville in the near said. No one was injured. The police said that they had been staking out the place as a precautionary measure, and the gunfire erupted when she left to answer another question, around midnight.
Former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld was indicted for manslaughter for shooting Rose as the unarmed teen walked away from the traffic stop last June. Rosfeld testified that he thought that Rose or any other suspect had a gun on 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, that is nothing.”
Rose’s family is now moving forward with a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Rosfeld and East Pittsburgh, a small town of about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the center of Pittsburgh, where the trial was held.
Thomassey told reporters after the ruling that Rosfeld is “a good man, he is.” The lawyer said that he hopes that the city remains calm, and “everyone takes a deep breath and go on with their lives.”
The leaders of the two great Pittsburgh charities a statement expressing “shock and outrage” over the verdict.
“Pittsburgh now, unfortunately, in a disturbing and ever-growing catalogue of cases in the United States, where the law or the safety officers have walked free after the murder of young black men under questionable circumstances,” said Maxwell King, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation, Grant Oliphant, president of Heinz Gave.
“We asked the question: ‘Would Antwon Rose be alive today if he was white?” We, his family and the African-American community leaders believe that there is more than the chance that 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 illegal 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. Nor Rose, nor any other teenager in the taxi was with a weapon when the officer opened fire, but two weapons were later found in the vehicle.
Rosfeld had worked for the East Pittsburgh Police Department only a few weeks and was sworn in just a few hours before the shooting.
The 12-person jury — including three black members saw the video of the fatal confrontation. The jury took less than four hours to reach a verdict.
Attorney Jonathan Fodi argued that the video showed that there was no danger for the driver. But a defense expert testified Rosfeld was in his rights to use lethal force to stop suspects he thought had been involved in a shooting.
The prosecution called its own use-of-force expert, a decision of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania questioned. But Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said prosecutors were convinced that they had what they needed to make their case.
Shortly before the traffic stop, another person in the taxi, Zaijuan Hester, a window rolled down and shot at two people on the street, hitting one in the abdomen. Hester, 18, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated assault and firearms violations. He said that he was not Rose, so did the shooting.
Prosecutors had brought Rosfeld with an open count of murder, meaning the jury had the option of convicting him of murder or manslaughter.
Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania, Ramesh Santanam in Pittsburgh and Keith Srakocic in Pittsburgh contributed to this story.