In this March 12, 2019 file photo, former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, charged with murder in the shooting of Antwon Rose II, walks to the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa. A witness in the shooting of Rose by Rosfeld said Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at his trial in Pittsburgh, that he saw the officer standing on the sidewalk, in a panic, saying: “I don’t know why I shot him. I don’t know why I fired.” (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
PITTSBURGH – The defense rested Friday in the murder trial of a white police officer charged with shooting and killing an unarmed black teenager in the neighborhood of Pittsburgh, signaling the jury will soon be the case.
Former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld is responsible for the award is 17-year-old Antwon Rose II last summer. Video showed Rosfeld shoot Rose in the back, arm and side of the face as he fled. The former officer told the jury that he thought that Rose or any other suspect had a gun.
The jury will hear closing arguments Friday afternoon, the fourth day of the trial, and then begin the deliberations.
Rosfeld, 30, fired three bullets into the target after pulling over an illegal taxi that was used in a drive-by shooting. Rosfeld ordered the driver on the ground, but Rose and another passenger got out and started to walk away. Jurors saw video of the fatal confrontation, which showed that the Rose fall on the ground after being hit.
A defence expert, retired Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Clifford W. Jobe, Jr., back to the stand Friday and reiterated his belief that Rosfeld followed proper procedure when he shot Roos.
Under cross-examination, Jobe agreed with Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Fodi that a police officer can lie, in conflict with the law or are unreasonable. He also agreed with the prosecutor that, in some circumstances, it is reasonable to refrain from shooting, or to disengage from a situation.
But Jobe said that Rosfeld was in his rights to use “deadly force” to stop the fleeing suspects he thought had been involved in a shooting.
“What has Michael Rosfeld error do on June 19?” asked Rosfeld’s lawyer, Patrick Thomassey. “I don’t think he did anything wrong. He was following his training,” Jobe replied.
Rosfeld testified Thursday that he thought that Rose and the other passenger had pointed a gun at him. Neither teen had a gun on him at the time, although two guns were later found in the car.
“It happened very quickly,” Rosfeld said. “My intention was to put an end to the threat that was made against me.”
Prosecutors say Rosfeld gave inconsistent statements about the shooting, including whether he thought that Rose had a gun.
A prosecution witness has said that after the shooting, he heard Rosfeld say repeatedly, “I don’t know why I shot him. I don’t know why I fired.” Another prosecution witness said that he heard the officer ask, “Why did he do that? Why did he, out of his pocket?”
Prosecutors charged Rosfeld with an open count of murder, meaning the jury can convince him of murder or manslaughter. The defense asked the Judge Alexander Bicket on Friday to acquit Rosfeld of all charges, but the judge refused.
A juror, a white woman, who had taken copious notes, was dismissed from the panel last Friday, and replaced by a white man. No reason was given for her resignation. The jury now consists of seven men and five women. It has three blacks.
Also Friday, Bicket lifted a gag order that he imposed on the parties in the case. Thomassey’s request, saying that while he and the prosecutor had kept to the court order, the attorney of Rose’s family did not. On Wednesday, S. Lee Merritt released a letter to the media that Rose’s mother wrote to prosecutors urging them to show what a “kind, loving and funny” person her son was.
Rose had ridden in the passenger seat of the cab with another resident, Zaijuan Hester, on the back seat, a window rolled down and shot at two people on the street, hitting one in the abdomen. A few minutes later, Rosfeld spotted their car, which had its rear window shot out, and pulled it on.
Hester, 18, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated assault and firearms violations. Hester told a judge that he is not Rose, so did the shooting.