EAST PITTSBURGH, Pa. (AP) — A white police officer was charged Wednesday with criminal homicide in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager who fled a traffic stop and investigators say the officer gave inconsistent statements about whether he saw a gun in the teen’s hand.
The charge against East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld is outlined in a criminal complaint that says the officer first told investigators that 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. turned his hand toward him when he ran from the car and he “saw something dark he perceived as a gun.” During a second recap of the shooting, Rosfeld told investigators he did not see a gun and he was not sure if the teen’s arm was pointed at him when he fired.
The 30-year-old turned himself in Wednesday morning, was arraigned and released on $250,000 bond. Rosfeld, who was sworn in just hours before the shooting but had been working at the police department for a couple weeks, is scheduled to appear in court July 6.
The district attorney’s office did not immediately return a call for comment, but released a statement saying the office argued against granting bail to Rosfeld because the charge carries a sentence of life in prison. The complaint says criminal homicide can include any instance where someone knowingly, intentionally, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another person, and includes the charges of murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
Attorneys representing Rose’s family did not immediately return a request for comment on the charge. A funeral for the 17-year-old was held Monday.
Authorities have said Rose and another teen, who was arrested this week , fled after being pulled over on suspicion they were involved in a drive-by shooting. Rose was shot three times— in the right side of his face, his back and his elbow, leading to daily protests around Pittsburgh. The bullet through Rose’s back struck his lung and heart.
Rosfeld pulled over the car Rose was a passenger in the night of June 19, about 15 minutes after reports of a drive-by shooting in nearby North Braddock. A 22-year-old man was shot in the abdomen in the drive-by, and was treated and released from the hospital.
A witness described a car from that shooting that matched the one Rose was a passenger in. A bystander from a nearby home captured video of a portion of the stop and the shooting.
As Rosfeld is taking the driver of the car into custody, the passenger doors can be seen opening and Rose and the other teen running from the car. The officer fires three shots.
Rosfeld has been on administrative leave since the shooting occurred.
Two guns were found in the car and an empty gun magazine was found in Rose’s pocket, but investigators said Rose did not have a weapon when he was shot.
According to the complaint, the driver of the car, who was operating as an illegal cabbie, said he heard shots from the back of his car. He said Rose was sitting in the front and did not fire any shots during the earlier shooting.
The charge against him comes a day after authorities arrested the second teen seen running from the car the night of the shooting. Authorities say they expect to charge that teen, whose name had not been released as of Wednesday morning, in connection with the drive-by shooting that started the chain of events that led to Rose’s shooting.
Rosfeld, of Penn Hills, had worked at several other police departments, including at the University of Pittsburgh, during the last seven years.