The East Pittsburgh police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager Antwon Rose, sparking protests in Pittsburgh, has been charged.
Officer Michael Rosfeld has been charged with one count of criminal homicide, according to the court filings. CNN reports that the severity of the charge is ambiguous because criminal homicide includes murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.
The 30-year-old police officer shot the Woodland Hills High School honor student three times last week Tuesday as he fled with his back turned away from the police officers.
According to Allegheny County police, Antwon was a passenger in a car that police say fit the description of a car suspected in a drive-by shooting. A video surveillance video and a witness report described a similar car to the one Antwon and two others were seated in.
A video recording by a witness of the fatal incident shows police ordering the driver from the car. While the driver was being handcuffed, 17-year-old Antwon Rose and another passenger ran.
Rosfeld fired multiple rounds, Rose was struck three times with a fatal wound to the back. A witness is heard in the video questioning why the police would shoot fleeing suspects. The other passenger who ran with Rose managed to evade capture at the time of the shooting.
Protestors called for charges to be filed against Rosfeld prior to the announcement that he is facing criminal homicide charges. Michael Rosfeld was officially sworn into the police department just hours before the fatal shooting. However, he is an experienced officer in other police departments.
The teen inside the car with Antwon, Zaijuan Hester was arrested and charged with criminal attempted homicide, aggravated assault, and receiving stolen property. The charges are reportedly in connection to a drive-by shooting. However, the driver of the vehicle was questioned by police and released.
Two guns were found in the vehicle Antwon fled from but he did not have a weapon on his person.
According to the Post-Gazette via Vox, “Pennsylvania law allows police officers to use deadly force to prevent someone from escaping arrest if that person has committed a forcible felony, possesses a deadly weapon or if the person has indicated he or she will endanger human life or inflict bodily injury if not arrested.”
Charges involving police shootings are rarely prosecuted and if police are charged in a homicide, they’re very rarely convicted.
It is likely that the defense will have to prove that Antwon Rose was a threat to the Rosfeld’s and the other officer’s life or a threat to the public.