Witnesses: White officer in a panic after shooting black teen

Michelle Kenney, center, the mother of Antwon Rose II, arrives at the Allegheny County Courthouse with supporters on the second day 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 – 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 away where the June shot, ” 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 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. He said Rosfeld looked like 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 and ran, he 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, shot 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 about 600 feet (183 metres) away from the defence said. 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.

The families of Rose and Rosfeld were in the courtroom Tuesday.

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 writes in the letter dated Tuesday. “The smile that emanates from the photos of him really is a reflection of who he was.”

She goes on to describe how he learned the other kids in the neighborhood how to roller blade and skateboard, 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.

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