Jurors Friday evening found Michael Rosfeld, a white former East Pittsburgh officer, not guilty in the June 19, 2018, shooting of Antwon Rose II, a black 17-year-old.
The trial began Tuesday, and deliberations began Friday shortly after 4:30 p.m. The jury reached its verdict in less than four hours, acquitting Rosfeld of all charges. Rosfeld was charged with one count of criminal homicide.
On the night of the shooting, Rosfeld pulled over a car that matched the description of one that had been involved in a drive-by shooting earlier that night. While police arrested the driver of the vehicle, Rose and the third occupant began to run from the car. Rosfeld shot Rose three times, and Rose later died of his wounds at the hospital.
Over a four-day trial, the court heard testimony from witnesses including Rosfeld himself and multiple people who witnessed Rose’s shooting. The jury also watched video of the shooting, taken by a bystander. Rose was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
In an email to the University Friday night, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher offered condolences to the Rose family, saying Rose’s death was “a profound tragedy.”
“This trial, involving the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer, is also a test of our criminal justice system. It stands as another example of the stark inequities woven into our society’s fabric, particularly if you happen to be a young black man,” Gallagher wrote in the email.
Community members organized a multitude of protests in Pittsburgh in the weeks following Rose’s killing. After the verdict, Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Department said in a statement it was prepared for any demonstrations that may arise in the coming days.
“If demonstrations occur, Pittsburgh Police will be present to assure safety for everyone — including demonstrators, residents, business owners and visitors to our city,” the statement said.
Angry, disappointed reactions to the acquittal quickly appeared online. One Twitter user wrote, “No matter how progressive your city claims to be. The police can still murder with zero repercussion. My heart breaks for the family of #AntwonRose. Power to those who will fight for his memory. No justice. No peace.”
Another tweeted, “A cop murdered a child who was running away, shot him three times in the back … and the verdict is ‘not guilty.’ Fuck. This.”
The jury, selected last week in Dauphin County, consisted of nine white and three black jurors. Six were men and six were women.
Rosfeld worked for the Pitt police from 2012 to 2018, when he was fired after an incident in which he arrested three men outside the Garage Door Saloon in Oakland on charges that were later dropped.
After being fired on Jan. 18, 2018, Rosfeld began working at the East Pittsburgh Police Department on June 19, 2018. Rosfeld fatally shot Rose at a traffic stop only a few hours after being sworn in.