Pittsburgh Prosecutor Seeks 1st Degree Murder For Cop Who Shot Antwon Rose

District Attorney Stephen Zappala said that he planned to pursue first-degree murder charges against the officer.

Pittsburgh, PA – The Allegheny County District attorney has announced his intent to prosecute the officer who fatally shot a 17 year old who had just participated in a drive-by shooting.

Prosecutors plan to argue that East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld be charged with first-degree murder in the June 19 shooting death of Antwon Rose, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said during a Wednesday press conference.

Much of the information Zappala referenced as justification for the criminal homicide charge against Officer Rosfeld was related to evidence uncovered long after the officer’s split-second decision to fire his weapon – facts Officer Rosfeld had no way of knowing prior to the fatal shooting.

Zappala said that there was “no justification” for the officer’s decision to fire his weapon at the teen, due in part to investigators’ later findings that Rose had not been the shooter in a drive-by attack in North Braddock that preceded Officer Rosfeld’s decision to stop the vehicle that Rose was traveling in.

According to the criminal complaint, the driver of the suspect vehicle, referred to only as “Witness # 5,” said that two males, later identified as Rose and 17-year-old Zaijuan Hester, had asked him for a ride to East Pittsburgh.

The witness, who was also a jitney driver, agreed to transport the teens.

According to Zappala, Rose was sitting in the front passenger seat and Hester was riding in the back seat.

“Is that him?” Hester asked Rose as the car passed a market in North Braddock, according to the driver.

Hester then opened fire, Zappala said.

A 22-year-old male was shot during the North Braddock incident, and police radio communications initially reported that the victim had sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Witnesses provided investigators with a description of the suspect vehicle, which was then broadcasted to other responding officers.

Aware that the occupants of the suspect vehicle could still be armed, Officer Rosfeld stopped the light gold Chevrolet Cruze, which had gunshot damage to it, within minutes of the shooting in North Braddock.

The officer told investigators that he immediately radioed that he was conducting a felony stop, and exited his vehicle with his weapon drawn, according to the complaint.

The lone officer ordered the 20-year-old driver to exit the vehicle and lie down on the ground.

According to the criminal complaint, a witness observed Officer Rosfeld handcuff the driver just before he ordered the other two occupants out of the vehicle.

However, Officer Rosfeld told investigators that Rose exited the suspect vehicle prior to him issuing any commands for him to do so, according to the complaint.

Rose then turned his hand towards Officer Rosfeld, at which point the officer said he “saw something dark that he perceived as a gun,” the report read.

Officer Rosfeld told investigators that he stepped out from behind the cover of his patrol vehicle and fired his weapon. At the same moment, Hester jumped out of the passenger backseat and took off, the officer said.

Rose was shot three times during the encounter with Officer Rosfeld, Zappala said.

One bullet traveled through his elbow, another entered his cheek and exited his nasal cavity, and a third round – which proved to be fatal – entered his “mid-back” and became lodged in his chest.

Upon further questioning, Officer Rosfeld said he did not see a gun in Rose’s hand, but clarified that he “saw something in [Rose’s] hand but was not sure what it was,” police said.

At the hospital, homicide detectives found an empty 9mm Glock magazine in Rose’s front right pocket, according to the complaint.

A stolen .40-caliber handgun was recovered from beneath Rose’s seat, Zappala said. He confirmed it was the weapon used in the North Braddock attack, and said it has also been tied to “three or four” other crimes.

A stolen 9mm handgun, which police located under the driver’s seat, had not been fired during either of the June 19 shootings, according to Zappala.

Zappala said that Rose posed no risk of harm to the officer or others because he was later found to be unarmed. He noted that Rose also raised his hands before he turned and fled.

Using surveillance footage from the North Braddock shooting, investigators determined that Rose “didn’t fire a gun at all that night,” he added.

Hester was responsible for the North Braddock attack, and will be charged as an adult, Zappala said.

The prosecutor refused to comment regarding why Rose had decided to get into the vehicle with Hester.

"Whether he was the shooter or not is actually 100 percent irrelevant to the justification, and it's disturbing that the DA doesn't seem to understand that,” said Christopher Berg, Editor in Chief of Blue Lives Matter. “What's relevant is if Officer Rosfeld had probable cause at the time of the shooting that Rose had committed a crime involving the infliction of serious physical injury.”

“Rose was actually involved in the drive-by whether he pulled the trigger or not,” Berg noted. “Information released suggests that the officer had probable cause at the time of the shooting that Rose was involved in the drive-by.”

The prosecutor declared that Officer Rosfeld’s actions were “intentional” and alleged that he “was not acting to prevent death or bodily injury.”

Because Rose had not committed a “forcible felony,” was unarmed, and did not have the means by which to “take a human life,” Officer Rosfeld was not justified in shooting him, Zappala said.

“You can’t take somebody’s life under these circumstances,” he asserted. “You do not shoot somebody in the back if they’re not a threat to you.”

Zappala said he did not know whether Officer Rosfeld had said that he believed his own life was in danger during the encounter, and added that he “objected” to Officer Rosfeld having been released on $250,000 bond.

Officer Rosfeld has worked as a law enforcement officer since 2011, having served in Harmar Township and Oakmont before he joined the University of Pittsburgh Police Department in October of 2012.

The university confirmed that the officer was “dismissed for cause” in January, but would not disclose details about the termination of his employment, KDKA reported.

Officer Rosfeld’s university personnel file has been turned over to authorities investigating Rose’s death.

He was hired by the East Pittsburgh Police Department three weeks prior to the fatal encounter, and was formally sworn in as a police officer just 90 minutes before the shooting occurred, CBS News reported.

Officer Rosfeld has been on paid administrative leave since the officer-involved shooting.

Comments (31)
No. 1-31
LEO0301
LEO0301

Again, we'll see how this goes in a criminal trial but it's sad that a police officer, given these circumstances, is being arrested for 1st degree murder. Really, as a cop today, don't engage unless you absolutely have to. Live and work to see another day. Not only do you have the bad guys to contend with but now the state and your own department will hang you out to dry of they think it will make them look good.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

The charge makes sense. It's what I would get charged with if I shot someone in the back while they ran away.

cclaxton
cclaxton

@Hi_estComnDenomn Citizens may be charged for that, but police have an obligation to stop felons and to act proactively. I do think Rosfeld went too far, but he was certainly justified in pursuing him. At the time all 3 of the occupants were suspects in the drive-by shooting and needed to be arrested. One mistake Rosfeld made was not waiting for backup. More police could have prevented this.

cclaxton
cclaxton

@Hi_estComnDenomn 1st degree murder is definitely not appropriate. Worse case is 2nd degree and should probably be Manslaughter.

LEO0301
LEO0301

@Hi_estComnDenomn - I know you pretend to be when you're home alone but you're not a cop. They didn't just shoot a someone, they shot a person who was involved in a drive-bye shooting. Look at the law that regulates what an officer can and can't do in these situations and then get back to me, Felon.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@cclaxton I agree that he should have been pursued and arrested for questioning, and that the cop should have called for backup, but that didn't happen. He was shot in the back as he ran away.

Even with the extended rights cops have, there is no justification for shooting a fleeing suspect in the back unless they are in the commission of a deadly act at that moment (if i understand correctly; feel free to correct me) Also, the cop knew he fucked up because his story has changed multiple times. I guess we will see.

Slamdunk101
Slamdunk101

@Hi_estComnDenomn actually you are wrong. Police are covered by Tennessee V Garner in regards to shooting a fleeing felon. Read up on that case law. Also. I doubt you've been involved in an on duty shooting. Because if you have you'd know that sometimes your story changes because certain things you recall from the initial incident changes because sometimes you begin to question your actions. This is why most agencies don't usually question you right then and there until you speak with your attorney and go over the incident.

With that said. The full story isn't out yet so I'm going to wait and see before I give my two cents.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Slamdunk101 Ill check that case and get back to you. But Rosfeld gave 2 statements to 2 different officers at different times and they didn't match up. They didn't happen at the scene.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Slamdunk101 Court Summary, TENNESSEE v GARNER: Law enforcement officers pursuing an unarmed suspect may use deadly force to prevent escape only if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

This doesn't refute what i said though. In addition, what probable cause did Rosfeld have to believe the suspect posed a significant threat? He stated he didn't see a weapon, and Rose was running away. Who else would have been harmed in the timeframe that would cause Rosfeld to shoot?

Slamdunk101
Slamdunk101

Involved in a drive by shooting. In order to shoot one needs a gun, correct? Just because he doesn't see a weapon doesn't mean he poses a threat. Again, I don't know all the facts to the case since those facts aren't out yet. BUT. A potentially armed suspect running into a neighborhood after displaying an act of violence (the act of violence was shooting someone). I think that's threat enough. It's a public safety thing.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Slamdunk101 But that's conjecture, because we don't know the role Rose played in the drive-by,if any. Neither did Rosfeld before he shot.

They rightfully stopped a car with bullet holes to investigate. They didn't see this car during the drive by, nor did they see Rose with a gun. Rosfeld shot even though he stated he didn't see Rose with a gun.

Outlaw_Stupidity
Outlaw_Stupidity

And so is a large amount of police work, because unlike yourself... they can't afford to sit around for days until they get all the facts. They have to make a decision in a fraction of a second which could be the difference between them, or bystanders, going home or not. Whether you want to agree with it or not, he was complicit in the drive-by and with the information that he had at that moment there was reasonable belief that he posed a danger to the officer or others around.

But hey, lets not let logic and some critical thinking get in the way of claiming racism and try to fuel some made up agenda.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Outlaw_Stupidity Why are you bringing up race? Who claimed racism?

And running away without a weapon poses no threat. You're reaching there, chief.

fireslayer
fireslayer

I can’t see how what @Outlaw_Stupidity said didn’t address your response already. You DO NOT have the authority to speak on the level of perceived threat of this incident, as you quite simply, weren’t there. While the police officer has been charged, he has not been indicted.

fireslayer
fireslayer

Correction: the officer has yet to be charged. As per the article, they are considering the charges to be brought against the officer.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@fireslayer Then neither can you or @Outlaw_Stupidity, right? None of us were there. This is a discussion. Calm down.

Wycked89
Wycked89

Don't see any reaching n it's only a matter of time before racism is claimed I know it n u do too

Mrs10
Mrs10

@Hi_estComnDenomn I think someone had already addressed this, and it will vary among states, but the criminal charges will be different for a sworn officer shooting in the course of his duties vs a civilian. Murder 1 is primarily about intent (as I understand it). I won't say THIS officer bc like others I'm holding my verdict until more facts are available so I'll say generically when an officer shoots in the course of his duties it is because of fear for himself or others. It's part of the reason that Tennessee vs. Garner, as stated, covers shooting wrote fleeing (and again we will wait to see if it applies). If the intent/purpose of the shooting were found to be a personal desire to kill that specific person, or to kill a specific race of person, or just to kill for the sake of killing, that would be Murder 1. Same as it would be for you if you decided to kill your dealer for a bad buy (j/k - hey I live in Oklahoma we had an historic vote yesterday if you hadn't heard 😁). Or if you just felt like killing.

Mrs10
Mrs10

@Hi_estComnDenomn I'm gonna try that again - my last answer was correct but way too verbose. Here's the condensed version:

Murder 1 is based partially on intent. Police shooting most likely for defense of self/others Citizen shooting most likely for personal motives like gain or revenge

If it turns out the cop shot him for personal gain its Murder 1. If the shoot is deemed unjustified it's still not Murder 1 - most likely a lower degree or maybe even manslaughter. I'm guessing manslaughter if the intent is proven that he was trying to protect.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

I think that it is likely that his intent was to save the state the cost of a trial and the cost of incarceration. This a form of intent I often see expressed right here at this very website!

fireslayer
fireslayer

I was never the one stating running away without a weapon posed no threat in the situation. That was you , sir, so quit with the hostility. As you say, this is a discussion, not a fight.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@fireslayer I wasnt talking to you. I tagged @Outlaw_Stupidity because i was talking to him. This is exactly the reason i tag every response, so people know who I'm talking to.

And exactly when did it become hostile to ask someone to calm down? I can literally read your agitation growing from message to message. Again, calm down.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Mrs10 no one has all the details, and no one here is a lawyer, but we can all read and try to understand the situation. From the 2 laws that might apply (PA state law and the supreme court case), i read them as saying among the list of conditions that must be met to use deadly force on a fleeting suspect, an officer must provably believe the suspect was an immediate threat to himself or others.

I believe Rosfeld sunk his own case in his second statement, which had details that didn't match his first. Namely, he stated he did not see Rose with a weapon. And from the video, Rose never even faced him, even though Rosfeld said something along the lines of Rose having a hand/arm faced toward him in his first statement.

I just don't see how a suspect with no weapon visible and running away was an immediate threat to anyone, specifically toward Rosfeld.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Mrs10 and congrats on the passing of medical marijuana. It's about time y'all jumped aboard!

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Wycked89 But on this site if you bring up race, that makes you a racist, apparently. Fuck what the dictionary says.

You brought up race,making you the racist. Stop that.

61mouse
61mouse

If they would only charge cop killers with first-degree murder

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

i'd like to see the images from dashcams and bodycams before deciding. The facts matter. I don't think that running away after a shooting, without more justification, is enough, especially when both sides shot each other.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Hi_estComnDenomnn Tag him correctly next time, troll.

wigmon
wigmon

Been looking for an answer to this and still haven't found one, so trying here. In the drive by video, the guy in the red shirt pulls out a gun and shoots at the car hitting it a couple of times as it drives away. Was this man charged with any crimes? And a speculative question, if not, would he have been charged had say he hit or killed any of the three occupants of the car?