- Former Pennsylvania police officer Michael Rosfeld was acquitted Friday on all counts after he was charged with homicide in the shooting death of Antwon Rose II.
- Seventeen-year-old Rose, who was black, was fatally shot by Rosfeld, who is white, last summer after fleeing from a traffic stop.
- “It will have to be challenged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. It will have to continue to be challenged on a federal level,” S. Lee Merritt, the Rose family’s attorney, said Friday.
- “I hope that man never sleeps at night,” Rose’s mother, Michelle Kenney, said of Rosfeld, to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I hope he gets as much sleep as I do, which is none.”
The family of Antwon Rose II, a black teenager who was shot and killed by a white police officer last summer, has promised to keep fighting for legal accountability.
Former Pennsylvania police officer Michael Rosfeld, who was charged with homicide in the death of Rose, was acquitted Friday on all counts after a four-hour jury deliberation. Rosfeld shot Rose three times last summer, after the teenager fled from a traffic stop.
“It will have to be challenged, in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. It will have to continue to be challenged on a federal level,” S. Lee Merritt, the Rose family’s attorney, said Friday.
“Antwon Rose was shot in his back,” Merritt continued. “He was unarmed, and he did not pose a threat to the officer or to the community, and the verdict today says that is OK, that is acceptable behavior from a police officer.”
Merritt also condemned the verdict in a tweet: “Everything has to change,” he wrote.
A Pennsylvania jury just concluded shooting an unarmed black child in the back as he ran away is not Murder, it’s not even criminal. I will never be able to make peace with that. Everything has to change. pic.twitter.com/gctboRvIOP
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) March 23, 2019
Rose is just one of many unarmed black men that have died at the hands of white police officers, a phenomenon that spawned the #BlackLivesMatter movement. According to the Washington Post, there were 17 such deaths in the US in 2018. In these cases, officers are rarely convicted.
“This case had nothing to do with race, absolutely nothing to do with race,” Patrick Thomassey, Mr. Rosfeld’s lawyer, said after the verdict, as reported by the New York Times. “And some people in this city have made it that way and it’s sad. Mike Rosfeld was doing his job. He did his job. And it had nothing to do with the color of anyone he was arresting.”
The shooting of Rose was captured on video by bystanders and posted online, triggering a series of protests in the Pittsburgh area last year. When the verdict was announced on Friday, more protests erupted outside the courthouse.
“I hope that man never sleeps at night,” Rose’s mother, Michelle Kenney, said of Rosfeld. “I hope he gets as much sleep as I do, which is none.”
Rosfeld testified that he pulled over the car – a gold Chevrolet Cruze, driven by then-17-year-old Zaijuan Hester, in which Rose was the front seat passenger – because it matched the description of a car involved in a drive-by shooting 20 minutes earlier.
He also testified that he thought he’d seen a gun in Rose’s hand, contradicting earlier statements that he gave to police. Rosfeld then shot Rose in the back, arm and side of the face as he ran away.
“It happened very quickly,” he said during the trial, as reported by the New York Times. “My intent was to end the threat that was made against me.”