Penn Hills, PA – Dozens of protesters surrounded the home of East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld on Wednesday night, just hours after he was formally charged with homicide in connection with the June 20 shooting death of a teen who had just participated in a drive-by shooting (video below).
Officer Rosfeld told investigators that she shot Antwon Rose, 17, 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 Wednesday press conference and said that he planned to argue that the officer be charged with first-degree murder.
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 on Wednesday, WTAE reported.
Demonstrators placed cardboard gravestones and flowers in the bushes outside the officer’s home, and hung a sign that read “Blue Lives Murder,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
At least seven officers surrounded the home as protesters yelled and chanted in the dark, WTAE footage of the scene showed.
The news agency estimated that between 60 and 80 people attended the impromptu gathering, some of whom were wearing face masks.
“A 17-year-old boy is dead and his killer is free,” a protester identified only as Godfrey told WTAE outside Officer Rosfeld’s home. “So we're here because if it was anyone else he would not be free, he'd be standing behind bars. Antwon Rose's mother is crying while his killer is free."
As a car alarm blared in the residential neighborhood, one woman encouraged the crowd by hollering into a megaphone, cell phone footage showed.
At one point, the woman thrust the megaphone into an officer’s face and shined a light on him while she yelled about police being “oppressors.”
“Get justice by any means necessary!” she told the crowd. “What you have done tonight is a victory.”
“You have let his neighbors know who he is,” the woman continued. “This is just the beginning.”
“Murderer! Murderer!” the crowd began to scream. “We’re white and we’re black and we’ll be back! No justice, no peace, no racist police…no officer can sleep!”
“Peace be with you – we’ll see you tomorrow,” the woman said, before stepping in front of each of the officers standing guard outside Officer Rosfeld’s home.
“And we’ll see you very soon,” she told each one through the megaphone.
The officers had warned the demonstrators that they would need to disperse by 11 p.m., and the crowd dissipated without violence or arrests, WTAE reported.
It was unclear whether Officer Rosfeld was inside his residence at the time of the demonstration.
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.
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.
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 had decided to get into the vehicle with Hester.
Officer Rosfeld was placed on unpaid leave following his arrest.
You can watch footage from the protest in the video below: