East Pittsburgh Officer Charged With Criminal Homicide in Antwon Rose Shooting
EAST PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Prosecutors charged East Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Rosfeld with criminal homicide on Wednesday in the shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II, court records show.
New details, included in the criminal complaint against Rosfeld, indicate Antwon was shot in his face, right arm and the middle of his back. It also states that Antwon was in a car suspected in an earlier shooting but did not appear to be the shooter, and that Rosfeld made inconsistent statements about whether he believed Antwon had a gun when Rosfeld opened fire.
The severity of the charge against Rosfeld was not immediately clear. Under Pennsylvania law, criminal homicide includes murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. The latter is often a misdemeanor.
Criminal homicide is when someone “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being,” according to state code.
Rosfeld was arraigned Wednesday morning and his bail was set at $250,000, court records show. A preliminary hearing is set for July 6.
It was not immediately clear if the officer had obtained representation. He did not request a public defender, according to the court records.
“This is a small stride toward justice but we have a very long road ahead,” Rose family attorney Lee Merritt tweeted.
Rosfeld, 30, shot Antwon three times June 19 as he fled a car after a traffic stop. According to Allegheny County police, Antwon was a passenger in a car that authorities suspected of being involved in an earlier shooting in nearby Braddock.
The East Pittsburgh officer pulled the car over and ordered the driver out of the car and onto the ground, police said. Antwon and another passenger “bolted” from the vehicle, and Rosfeld opened fire, striking the teenager, police said.
The criminal complaint against Rosfeld contains a lengthy narrative providing myriad new details about Antwon Rose’s death and the earlier shooting:
Officers from East Pittsburgh, North Braddock and Braddock initially responded to a report of shots fired in an area of North Braddock known for drug crimes and shootings. Witnesses told officers a passenger had fired from a tan or gold Mercury with aftermarket wheels, then fled, the complaint says
Within minutes, police identified a victim with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and the vehicle description was updated to a light gold Chevy Cruze with tinted windows, according to the complaint.
Police obtained surveillance video from the scene and collected shell casings from .45- and .40-caliber weapons. Surveillance video showed a black man in a dark shirt roll down the Cruze’s rear passenger window and open fire with a handgun. The front passenger window remained closed. A man on the sidewalk with the gunshot victim returned fire.
About a mile and a half away, officers responded to the scene where Rosfeld had pulled over a light gold Cruze with its rear window broken and with two bullet holes, one in the trunk and one in the front passenger door, the complaint says. The driver was in custody and another passenger had fled on foot. Antwon had been shot and taken to a hospital. Rosfeld’s car was parked 24 feet behind the Cruze.
Officers pursuing the passenger who fled the Cruze later found a black shirt, which was collected as evidence. A juvenile arrested this week is expected to be charged in the North Braddock shooting, Allegheny County police spokeswoman Amie Downs said Tuesday.
Rosfeld waffles on seeing a gun?
Witnesses at the second scene told investigators Rosfeld ordered the driver out of the car and appeared to handcuff him, before turning his attention to the other occupants, one of whom fled between a home and a senior center, the complaint says. Rosfeld shot three times, hitting one of the men, whose hands were empty, witnesses said. The second man fled amid the gunshots, according to the complaint.
The driver told police he had been at a housing complex after work and had picked up a guy named Javon and another fellow whose name he didn’t know. Javon, who was wearing a light-clored shirt, got into the front seat and the other male, who was wearing a black shirt, got in the back, the driver told police.
As they drove past a market in North Braddock, the driver said he heard the person in the back seat ask, “Is that him?” The driver then heard gunfire and drove toward East Pittsburgh. When detectives showed the driver a photo of Antwon, the driver said that was the person he knew as Javon, the complaint says.
Investigators found two guns under the passenger seat: a 9mm Glock with a 17-round clip missing one bullet and a .40-caliber Glock with an extended clip containing 18 rounds, the complaint says. The .40-cal was determined to have discharged the casings found at the scene of the North Braddock shooting. The weapon had been reported stolen, while the other gun had been reported lost, the complaint states.
At the hospital, police collected Antwon’s belonging, including a light-colored T-shirt and an empty magazine for the 9mm Glock.
Speaking to police, the complaint says, Rosfeld explained his intention had been to get all three occupants on the ground as he awaited backup. After ordering the driver onto the ground, Rosfeld said, the front-seat passenger exited the vehicle and “turned his hand toward Officer Rosfeld and he, Officer Rosfeld, saw something dark that he perceived as a gun.” He stepped out from behind his car door for a better view and opened fire, the officer told investigators.
Asked again to recount the events, Rosfeld “told the detectives that he did not see a gun when the passenger emerged and ran. When confronted with this inconsistency, Rosfeld states he saw something in the passenger’s hand but was not sure what it was,” the complaint says.
Rosfeld had been sworn in to the East Pittsburgh police force just hours before the shooting, the complaint says. He’d worked with other local departments for seven years, CNN affiliate WPXI reported.