A jury took under four hours to conclude that former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld was not guilty in the killing of Antwon Rose II, 17. Rosfeld was cleared of all four charges: first- and third-degree murder, and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rose’s mother, Michelle Kenney, said, “It isn’t what I hoped for, but it’s what I expected.” Rosfeld was accused of killing Rose after a felony traffic stop on June 19. After a four-day trial, jurors had to decide whether Rosfeld was justified when he killed Rose, who 13 minutes earlier had been in a car during a drive-by shooting.
“I don’t have any question in my mind it was the proper verdict,” said Patrick Thomassey, attorney for Rosfeld. Rosfeld is white, Rose was black. Thomassey said, “This case had nothing to do with race, absolutely nothing to do with race.” Under Pennsylvania law, police officers are justified in using force when they believes it is necessary to prevent death or serious injury to themselves or others, or if they believe it necessary to prevent a suspect’s escape from arrest. S. Lee Merritt, attorney for Rose’s family, criticized that law and said it is not acceptable for a police officer to shoot someone in the back if the officer suspects that person is fleeing a felony and intends to harm others. He said, “The charges the jury received today and deliberated on made it seem OK to shoot an unarmed fleeing suspect in the back.” District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said, “While I respectfully disagree with their verdict, it is the people of this commonwealth who decide guilty or not guilty and they have spoken to this matter.”