Officer Charged With Killing Antwon Rose, An Unarmed Black Teen

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An East Pittsburgh police officer was charged on Wednesday with criminal homicide in last week’s shooting death of an unarmed black teenager that sparked a wave of protests, court papers showed.

Officer Michael Rosfeld, 30, faces a single criminal count for the June 19 shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, said in an email to Reuters.

Rose’s death was the latest in a string of killings of black men by police that has triggered street protests and fueled a national debate about racial bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Rosfeld and other officers were responding to a report of a drive-by shooting when they stopped a vehicle that Rose had been riding in. Prosecutors said in court papers that Rosfeld told them he saw a person emerge from the car, holding something he believed could have been a gun, though he told investigators he was not sure what it was.

A second person who had been in the car, Zaijuan Hester, has been arrested and charged with attempted homicide related to the shooting, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

“We were here at 6:30 this morning. We turned him in,” Rosfeld’s attorney, Patrick Thomassey, told Pittsburgh’s WPXI television. The station cited Thomassey as saying the officer was released on an unsecured bond of $250,000.

Thomassey did not respond to a request for comment.

Video footage of the shooting circulated widely online and showed two men running away from a car that had been stopped by police. Both men appeared to fall to the ground as gunfire was heard.

Four people were arrested during a largely peaceful protest on Friday over the incident.

Rosfeld is the latest in a series of U.S. police officers to face criminal charges over the deaths of black men and teenagers.

Former North Charleston, South Carolina, policeman Michael Slager was sentenced in December to 20 years in prison for shooting an unarmed black man following a traffic stop. The death of that man, 50-year-old Walter Scott, was captured on video by a bystander.

Officers in other high-profile killings of black men were either not charged or were cleared of criminal charges.

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters

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