The East Pittsburgh police officer who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Antwon Rose as he ran away from him during a traffic stop has been charged with criminal homicide, The Incline reports. Michael Rosfeld, who was recently hired as a part-time employee by the East Pittsburgh Police Department, was charged June 27, eight days after the fatal shooting.
Rosfeld, 30, was placed on leave after the June 19 shooting. He turned himself in early Wednesday morning and made his first court appearance for his arraignment before being released on $250,000 unsecured bond, WPXI-TV reports.
Rosfeld pulled over the car Rose was in Tuesday night because it matched the description of a vehicle used just minutes earlier in a shooting in a neighboring town, authorities have said. As Rosfeld took the driver into custody, Rose and another passenger fled from the car. Video recorded by a witness shows Rosfeld opening fire and shooting Rose. The teen, who lives in Rankin, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:19 p.m., the Allegheny County Police Department said in a press release.
The shooting happened in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a borough of about 2,000 residents in Allegheny County that is 15 minutes outside of the city of Pittsburgh. The incident began with another shooting in neighboring North Braddock, according to police.
“I’ve been a mayor for 20 years and long before that I don’t think a police officer’s discharged their pistol or weapon in all that time and unfortunately it had to be now,” East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis Payne told WTAE. “We can’t change what happened, nothing can change what happened. All we can do is remember Antwon, pray on it and dwell on it and make something good come out of his life.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rosfeld Can Be Seen in a Bystander’s Video Firing 2 Shots at Rose as He Runs Away With His Back Turned
The video shows Officer Michael Rosfeld and other officers stopping a car on a residential street. Two people get out of the car and run and shots are then fired. One person, who has his back to the officers, appears to fall to the ground after the shots were heard. You can watch the video above. The video shows the shooting footage twice, once zoomed in.
After two shots are heard, the person recording the video gasps and can be heard saying, “why are they shooting at him? … Why are they shooting? All they did was run and they’re shooting at them?”
Another video posted on Facebook shows a person being taken into an ambulance and receiving chest compressions from a paramedic. You can watch that video, which is graphic, below:
A witness told WTAE-TV that she saw the harrowing scene unfold from her porch. She told the news station she saw officers approaching the car with their guns drawn. The officers handcuffed the driver of the car and that is when the two passengers opened their doors and took off running. She then heard the shots.
Police said Rosfeld fired three shots and Rose was hit three times. McDonough said he was shot in various places, but wouldn’t confirm where he was hit.
Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said he “briefly saw” the video of the shooting. “It’s important, however it has to be taken in the context of the entire investigation. It’s a snapshot in time and while important, it will be factored in to the larger totality of the investigation.”
McDonough added, “I understand in today’s atmosphere any time a young man is killed there’s cause for outrage in some areas. However, I would urge people to give us time to conduct an objective investigation, to gather facts. As you know, social media is so prolific now, some of the initial postings on social media that came out directly after this incident were inaccurate and inflammatory. So I would urge that people in the community give us a chance to conduct an investigation and I guarantee that’s what they will get from the Allegheny Police.”
McDonough said there are times when shooting someone in the back can be justified.
“It’s very complex, there are a lot of dynamics. There is something called a reactionary gap between the time a human perceives a threat and is able to act on it. Things happen, people tuirn around and things. I’m not saying that any of that applies to this situation because it’s too early and we can’t make judgements. Ultimately, our findings will go to the district attorney and he will make that judgement whether or not this was a justified use of force by a police officer.”
McDonough said he believes police gave a verbal order to Rose before the shots were fired. He said the officer was conducting a “felony traffic stop,” and ordered the driver out and had him “prone” on the ground. He also gave a command to the other occupants and that is when they fled from the vehicle, McDonough said.
On Friday, multiple Pittsburgh news stations reported that there was video showing Rose firing a gun during the earlier shooting that led to the traffic stop and that gunshot residue was found on his hands. But the Allegheny County Police Department have said those reports are false:
The Allegheny County Police Department (ACPD) continues to receive inquiries related to reports from police sources that 1) a video of the drive-by shooting in North Braddock shows Antwon Rose firing a gun; and, 2) that gunshot residue has been found on Antwon Rose’s hands. According to Lieutenant Andrew Schurman of the Allegheny County Police Department’s Homicide Unit, both reports are false. While ACPD does have a video showing the North Braddock incident, that video does NOT show Antwon Rose firing a gun. The information about gunshot residue is also false. Crime Lab reports are still pending and have not yet been issued. The District Attorney’s office also concurs and affirms the information provided by Lt. Schurman.
Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough added, “We caution the media about providing irresponsible information from sources that are not verified. Once published, such false information can be widely spread. We share your interest in providing answers to the many questions in our community, and are working expeditiously to gather all of the available information and detail so that it can be reviewed, and answers provided. We are not releasing additional information at this time to protect the integrity of the investigation, and ask for your cooperation and understanding of what we require as police to complete the independent investigation of this incident.”
The news stations also reported that a gun magazine was found in Rose’s possession, but police have not commented about that report.
2. He Had Been Officially Sworn In as an Officer Just Hours Earlier & the Mayor Says He Was Treated for ‘Shock’ After the Shooting
Officials say Michael Rosfeld was officially sworn in an as a part-time officer at an East Pittsburgh council meeting about an hour before the shooting. The meeting was held at 7 p.m. Tuesday and the shooting occurred just after 8:40 p.m. He had been hired three weeks earlier.
East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis Payne told the Post-Gazette the officer was treated at the hospital for “shock” after the shooting. Payne said East Pittsburgh Police Chief Lori Fruncek, who is his daughter, spent several hours with the officer after the incident.
Police were investigating another shooting in a nearby borough, North Braddock, when they stopped the car Antwon Rose was in, according to a press release.
“At approximately 8:20 PM, County 9-1-1 received multiple calls reporting that shots were fired and that a male had been shot in the 800 block of Kirkpatrick Avenue,” police said. “Callers reported that a vehicle was seen fleeing the scene, and were able to provide a description of that vehicle. North Braddock Police and paramedics responded and found a 22-year-old male who had been shot. He was been transported to a local trauma center where he was treated and released.”
Police said during that incident the 22-year-old man was shot in the abdomen. The shooter fired nine .40 caliber rounds at the victim from a passing vehicle and the victim also returned fire.
According to Allegheny County Police:
Information on the vehicle that fled the North Braddock scene was put out over the air for neighboring police departments to assist/respond. An East Pittsburgh police officer saw a vehicle matching the description on Grandview Avenue which also had ballistics damage to the rear window. The officer stopped the vehicle near Grandview and Howard Street in East Pittsburgh. The officer took the driver into custody. While he was putting the driver into handcuffs, two other occupants ran from the car. One individual – a 17-year-old male – was shot by police. He was transported to McKeesport Hospital where he was declared deceased. Further information on the deceased, including name, will be released by the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner once formal identification has been made and the next of kin notified.
Rose was shot about 8:40 p.m.
The 20-year-old driver, who was handcuffed before the shooting, was arrested. He has not been identified. The driver was released after being interviewed by detectives and has not been charged. The driver told police he worked as a jitney, an unlicensed cab, and was working in that role Tuesday night, according to the Post-Gazette. Police confirmed the driver had worked as a jitney in the past.
At a press conference Wednesday, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said he was confident the vehicle that was pulled over was the one used in the shooting. He said it matched the description given by witnesses and had damage to the back window that was possibly caused by gunshots returned by the shooting victim during the first incident.
Zaijuan Hester, who police say fled from the car Antwon Rose was in, was arrested on June 25 on an unrelated charge.
3. The County Districty Attorney’s Office Argued Against Bail
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement it argued against bail. “On the issue of bail, our office argued vigorously against the setting of bail citing both the Pennsylvania State Constitution and statute which indicates that persons charged with a crime that can result in life in prison are not entitled to bail. We believe the Magisterial District Judges ruling on bail was improper but we do not plan on contesting it at this time,” the statement said.
The case was investigated by the Allegheny County Police Department, which turned over its findings to Allegheny County District attorney, Stephen Zappala. Online records show Rosfeld was charged with criminal homicide. You can read the criminal complaint filed against him below:
Rosfeld told detectives he began the “felony traffic” stop procedure before his backup arrived and without knowing how far away they were. He said during his interview that as he was ordering the driver to get on the ground, he saw the front seat passenger exit the vehicle. Rosfeld told detectives the passenger had his hand turned toward him and he saw something dark, which he perceived as a gun. Rosfeld told detectives that caused him to step from behind the cover of his car to get a better view. He said he then fired his weapon as another person fled from the car.
“At the conclusion of Rosfeld’s statement, the detectives asked him to go over the sequence of events one more time. During that rendition, Rosfeld told the detectives that he did not see a gun when the passenger emerged and ran. When confronted with his inconsistency, Rosfeld stated that he saw something in the passenger’s hand but was not sure what it was. In addition, Officer Rosfeld states that he was not certain if the individual who had his arm pointed at him was still pointing at him when he fired the shots,” the criminal complaint says.
4. Rosfeld Was Dismissed From His Job as a University of Pittsburgh Police Officer for Cause Earlier This Year, CBS Pittsburgh Reports
Mike Rosfeld is a Pennsylvania native, and graduated from Riverview High School in Oakmont. He then attended Penn State University New Kensington. Rosfeld was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette among other college scholarship winners after his senior of high school. The article states he was part of the Civil Air Patrol, the football team and the ski club in high school. He was planning to study crime, justice and law at Penn State New Kensington, he told the newspaper.
After working for the Oakmont and Harmar police departments in part-time roles, Rosfeld was hired by the University of Pittsburgh. According to the University of Pittsburgh’s website, Rosfeld, who is married, was honored for working at the university for five years in January 2018.
According to KDKA-TV, Rosfeld was dismissed from his job with the Pitt police department in January 2018 for cause. The station’s said it was a personnel matter, but did not provide further details. The university said it is cooperating in the investigation and gave Rosfeld’s personnel file to detectives.
Rosfeld worked for the Harmar Township police starting in February 2012, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He resigned from the department in October 2012, the Tribune-Review reported at the time.
5. Rose Would’ve Been Entering His Senior Year in High School & Was Involved in Volunteer Work in His Community
According to WPXI-TV, Rose was a student last year at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh.
“The Woodland Hills School District acknowledges the gun violence that occurred recently within the neighborhoods that our district serves,” Assistant Superintendent Licia Lentz said in a statement. “We are urging the communities to help us call a ceasefire to end this gun violence to keep our community safe for our children … Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and the entire Woodland Hills Community.”
Superintendent Al Johnson told the New York Times that Rose, “was an excellent student,” who had been taking Advanced Placement classes.
The family has hired attorney Lee Merritt to represent them. Merritt issued a statement Wednesday night on behalf of the family:
It is difficult to find justification in the shooting of 17-year-old rising senior high school student Antwon Rose II. From all accounts, he was a generous, hard working and highly promising student. Affirmations of his generosity and spirit and genuine goodheartedness have begun pouring in from all corners of the East Pittsburgh community where he lived.
We know very little about the circumstances surrounding his death at this early stage. We must emphasize that rumors of him being involved in a separate shooting are unsubstantiated. We know that he was not armed at the time he was shot down, that he posed no immediate threat to anyone and that, significantly, the driver of the vehicle he occupied was released from police custody. The officer involved in this shooting had just been sworn into the (East Pittsburgh PD) … (90 minutes) before this encounter. These facts, without more, simply leave very little room to justify the use of deadly force by this officer. Additional information concerning the background of the offending officer and the facts available to him at the time of the shooting is needed as we determine the appropriate action in this matter.
On behalf of the family we thank the community for the generous outpouring of concern and support.
Rose once worked at a children’s gymnastics and fitness center in Pittsburgh for a summer, its owner, Kimberly Eads Ransom, wrote in a Facebook comment on Wednesday. She said the photo of him circulating on Facebook, showing him smiling next to a little girl, was taken in her gym when he worked there.
“He was fantastic and I have nothing but great things to say about him,” she wrote. “He showed up in a 3 piece suit to his job interview in the middle of July heat in a gym. We loved him. The kids loved him. He was valued and we won’t forget him.”
Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who runs several charities in the Pittsburgh area and whose husband, John Fetterman, is the mayor of Braddock and a current candidate for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor, wrote on Facebook that Rose volunteered for her. He worked at Freestore15104, which helps provide goods to people in need.
“No words other than this is the young man who was killed in East Pittsburgh yesterday. Then just 14 and only a few weeks into summer vacation, he wrote us to ask about volunteering at the Freestore and was scheduled to return this summer. His life was just starting, he was part of a wonderful family and he was SO LOVED by so many and he didn’t deserve this,” she wrote on Facebook. She wrote, “this is who he was,” along with a screenshot of an email about how he wanted to volunteer more often.
Fetterman told KDKA-TV, “He was a funny, goofy kid who loved chasing children around the store.”
Duquense Mayor Nickole Nesby wrote on Facebook, “He volunteered for me as well. He prepared excel spreadsheets and scheduled for our Movies in the Park on Friday’s. My heart is broken.”
Nesby added, “Yesterday, I attended the visual for the murdered youth in Duquesne. Afterwards, I was so drained. The gun violence, death, tears and loss of life takes a toll on us all. This is another example of failing to invest in our Communities. I awoke to a fb tag of a young man being shot at in East Pittsburgh. Only to read it was a youth volunteer of mine.”