The verdict has angered some on the community, who apparently feel that violence is justified. The office of Rosfeld’s defense attorney was shot at last night and the city is preparing for worse.
Rosfeld shot the suspect after pulling over an unlicensed taxicab suspected to have been involved in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier.
Rose, who had removed the court-ordered GPS device from his ankle and vanished on March 18, was a passenger in the vehicle. He tried to flee from police, and was shot by Rosfeld.
“The fact that Rosfeld shot Rose was never in dispute; instead, the jury was tasked with deciding if the shooting was justified.
“Prosecutors charged Rosfeld with an open count of homicide, meaning the jury could convict Rosfeld of murder or manslaughter. The defense argued a murder charge wasn’t appropriate in the case.”
“What we have is a police officer doing his duty. There’s not a hardness of heart required for first- or third-degree murder,” defense lawyer Patrick Thomassey argued in court. “We have a burst of three shots in one second on a fleeing felon and we’re going to charge him with murder? It’s not fair.”
The jury reached their verdict after deliberating for about three and a half hours Friday.
There was high emotion in the courtroom as the verdict was read.
Rosfeld, his wife, his parents and the rest of his family were taken out of the courtroom under guard after the verdict was read.
The Rose family was then also taken out of the courtroom under guard.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala issued the following statement regarding the verdict:
“I have always believed that the criminal justice system belongs to the people and the best example of that is when 12 men and women sit in a room and deliberate how best to pass judgement onto one of their peers, indeed that is the foundation on which the entire criminal justice system is built.
“While I respectfully disagree with their verdict, it is the people of this commonwealth who decide guilty or not guilty and they have spoken to this matter.
“In the interest of justice, we must continue to do our job of bringing charges in situations where charges are appropriate, regardless of the role an individual holds in the community.”
Merritt said he didn’t expect the jury to return so quickly.
“I think that there was enough evidence in this case to merit longer deliberation and more consideration of the entire evidence, given the gravity of the situation. I’ve said repeatedly throughout this trial that the humanity of Antwon Rose wasn’t put on display, and I think that if they were considering that they were valuing the live of a beautiful, intelligent, valuable member of this community, then it should have been afforded more time,” Merritt said.
Merritt went on to say the family was devastated, but “encouraged because our fight continues.”
Merritt later issued the following statement:
“While the family of Antwon Rose is devastated that former officer Michael Rosfeld was acquitted today, they are grateful for the support of the community and from many around the country.
Although the facts of the case seemed clear cut, namely that Antwon Rose was shot in the back as he ran from officer Rosfeld; the jury’s verdict was heavily influenced by flaws in current Pennsylvania law that contradict protections afforded citizens by the U.S. Constitution.
Antwon’s family and I will be working to change those laws in an effort to prevent other families from suffering a similar disappointment.
We will also focus our efforts on holding those accountable for Antwon’s death through our civli suit.
The fight for justice is never easy, but we will make every effort to protect the memory and legacy of Antwon Rose.”
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey reacted to the verdict after it was read:
“I don’t have any question in my mind that this was the proper verdict. I give this jury a lot of credit. This was a very hard case. I would point out to you that this was not an all-white jury. There are African Americans on this jury. They listened to the facts. They listened to the law, and in my opinion, they rendered the correct verdict.
“And I’m gonna say this right now, this case had nothing to do with race, absolutely nothing to do with race, and certain people in this city have made it that way and it’s sad. Mike Rosfeld was doing his job. He did his job. Had nothing to do with the color of anybody he was arresting.
“And I’m glad the case is over. I hope everybody just gets on with their lives, including Mr. Rosfeld and including me, to tell you the truth,” defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said. “He’s maintained from the beginning that he just was trying to do what he was supposed to do. There’s a car that’s involved in trying to murder two people up the road. What’s he supposed to do? And if you heard Mr. Joe, the expert, who I think is the best guy in the state, he said he did what he was supposed to do. Think about it. What if this is happening in your neighborhood? Supposed to let them go? Really? That’s not what we want. We want to be safe in our homes. We want the police officers to make us safe, and that’s exactly what happened here.”
The city is now preparing for looting and rioting. Thomassey’s office has already been shot at.