By Robert Gearty
Published March 23, 2019
A former Pittsburgh-area white police officer on trial for fatally shooting a black teenager fleeing from a traffic stop was acquitted Friday of murder and manslaughter charges.
An Alleghany County Court jury found former East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld was justified when he killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose last June following less than four hours of deliberation in a four-day trial.
Hours after the verdict, two shots were fired into the office of Rosfeld's attorney Pat Thomassey in Monroeville, Penn., WTAE-TV reported. Police showed up Saturday morning to investigate the incident which occurred around 12:30 a.m., according to Thomassey.
Earlier, Rose's mother, Michelle Kenney, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "I hope that man [Rosfeld] never sleeps at night. I hope he gets as much sleep as I do, which is none."
Kenney said she was upset but unsurprised by the verdict, given other cases in which police officers have either avoided charges or won acquittals in similar shootings.
"It isn't what I hoped for, but it's what I expected," she said, adding she feels her son ended up dead because he was black.
The high-profile killings of black men and teens by white police officers across the U.S. in recent years has become a flashpoint in fueling racial tensions.
The verdict sparked small demonstrations in downtown Pittsburgh where the case was tried. Pittsburgh police tweeted the “peaceful demonstration” resulted in rolling, temporary road closures.
Rose had been riding in the front seat of the cab when another occupant, Zaijuan Hester, in the back, rolled down a window and shot at two men on the street, hitting one in the abdomen. A few minutes later, Rosfeld spotted their car, which had its rear windshield shot out, and pulled it over. Rosfeld ordered the driver to the ground, but Rose and another passenger jumped out and began running away. Rosfeld, sworn in just hours before the fatal shooting after only a few weeks on the job, fired three times in quick succession.
Rose was struck three times in the back, arm and side, the jury was told.
Hester, 18, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated assault and firearms violations and admitted being the shooter.
The former officer told jurors that he thought Rose or another suspect had a gun pointed at him, insisting he fired his weapon to protect himself and the community. Neither was armed.
Two guns were found in the car.
A defense expert told the jury, which included three black jurors, that Rosfeld was justified in using deadly force to stop suspects he thought had been involved in a shooting.
Rose's mother has filed a federal lawsuit that accuses Rosfeld and the small town of East Pittsburgh of violating the teen's civil rights.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.