People come to the Allegheny County Courthouse prior to the start of the second day of the murder trial of the former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Pittsburgh. Rosfeld, 30, is facing a charge of criminal homicide for the June 2018-the death of the 17-year-old unarmed black high school student Antwon Rose, II. (Nate Smallwood/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via AP, Pool)
PITTSBURGH – A witness in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer Wednesday said 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.”
The process of the former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld continued into a second day Wednesday in a Pittsburgh courtroom where three witnesses were called during the morning testimony.
John Leach, a neighbor who lives a few houses from the June recordings, he said on the veranda at Rosfeld fired three bullets into 17-year-old Anton Rose II after pulling over an illegal taxi suspected to have been used in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier. Rose was a front seat passenger in the cab, and was shot as he fled.
Rosfeld, 30, is facing a charge of criminal homicide.
Leach, the second witness to testify Wednesday, said that after the shooting, he was in Rose’s body, look Rosfeld on the sidewalk in the neighborhood says repeatedly, “I don’t know why I shot him. I don’t know why I fired.”
He said later, he saw other officers to comfort Rosfeld if he was crying, bent over and hyperventilating. Rosfeld, he said, and looked as if he was about to go.
Leach said he saw Rosfeld pointing a gun at Rose, while at least one of Rose’s hands in the air. Then Rose turned around and ran, ” he said.
Patrick Shattuck said on Wednesday he was in a senior center across the street for a meeting of the board. Five to seven minutes after the shooting, Shattuck said Rosfeld, with swollen, red eyes, went inside the building and said, “Why did he do that? Why he did that? Why did he, out of his pocket?”
East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis J. Payne, who was also there, he said, also heard Rosfeld say, “Why would he do that?”, but said he did not hear the comment about the pocket.
Rosfeld was in the senior center just a few minutes when another officer came in and told him that he couldn’t be there. Rosfeld left, taking with him a gun he had brought inside, Shattuck said.
Attorney Patrick Thomassey said Rosfeld not going to shoot anyone that day and did nothing wrong in his fatal encounter with Rose.
“You think Michael Rosfeld came on 19 June, and thought that he was going to shoot someone? Of course not,” he said.
The prosecutors said Rosfeld gave inconsistent statements about the shooting, including whether he thought that Rose had a gun.
The video of the recording, recorded by neighbor Lashaun Livingston, was posted online, which led to protests in the Pittsburgh area last year, including a late-night march that shut down a major highway.
A jury of six men and six women, including three African-Americans, was selected in the entire country in Harrisburg last week and will be sequestered in a Pittsburgh hotel for the duration of the trial, is expected to take a week or more.
More video was shown in court, held by the University of Pittsburgh student who was in his car at a stop sign in the neighborhood. Peyton Deri said that he could not really see if there was anything in the hands of Rose, or the vehicle of the other occupant, Zaijuan Hester.
Rose ‘ s mother sent a letter to prosecutors Wednesday, urging them to against the defense of the image of her son as “just a thug.” In the letter she asks the prosecutors to paint a picture of her son as he really was.
“He was a rose that grew from concrete. Despite the darkness around him, he was friendly, sweet and funny,” she wrote in the letter dated Tuesday.
She describes how he learned the other kids in the neighborhood how to inline Skating and skateboarding, and even gave his skates for children in need.
Rose had ridden in the passenger seat of the illegal taxi when Hester, on the back seat, a window rolled down and shot at two men on the street.
Hester, 18, of Swissvale, pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated assault and firearms violations for the shooting, in which a man wounded in the abdomen. Hester told a judge that he is not Rose, so did the shooting.