Security Issues Force Venue Change For Cop Charged For Shooting Drive-By Suspect
Pittsburgh, PA – The preliminary hearing for an East Pittsburgh police officer charged with criminal homicide in the June 19 death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose has been moved to a new location due to “security concerns,” according to the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors announced the change of venue for the July 27 hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
Instead of taking place at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court, the hearing will be held at the Allegheny County Courthouse, according to the notification.
Allegheny County District Attorney spokesman Mike Manko said they have not received any specific threats directed at anyone involved in the proceedings, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
“All parties are more comfortable moving the hearing…because of the sheer number of people who are paying attention to the case,” Manko explained.
Common Pleas President Judge Jeffrey Manning signed the district attorney’s office’s request on Tuesday.
Officer Rosfeld told investigators that he shot Rose after the teen jumped out of the suspect vehicle and turned his hand toward the officer, according to court documents.
Officer Rosfeld said he “saw something dark” in Rose’s hand, but that he “was not sure what it was,” the court documents read.
The officer fired his weapon at Rose, hitting him three times.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala denounced Officer Rosfeld during a June 27 press conference and said that he planned to argue that the officer be charged with first-degree murder.
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 finding that Rose had not been the actual shooter in a drive-by that preceded Officer Rosfeld’s decision to stop the vehicle, although he was with the shooter at the time of the shooting.
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 prior to fleeing.
Another passenger in the vehicle, 17-year-old Zaijuan Hester, was responsible for the North Braddock drive-by shooting, Zappala said.
The prosecutor refused to comment regarding why Rose was in the vehicle with Hester.
Dozens of protesters surrounded the officer’s Penn Hills home just hours after his arrest.
The demonstrators claimed that Officer Rosfeld received special treatment from the court because he is a law enforcement officer and argued that he should not have been released on $250,000 bond after being charged, WTAE reported.
It was unclear whether Officer Rosfeld was inside his residence at the time of the demonstration.
He was placed on unpaid leave following his arrest.