The East Pittsburgh police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose while he ran away from cops during a traffic stop Tuesday (Jun. 19) has been identified as 30-year-old Michael Rosfeld, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Rosfeld had only been on duty in East Pittsburgh for three weeks and been sworn in just 90 minutes before the shooting. He was placed on leave after the shooting and has not commented. It isn’t clear if he has retained an attorney.
Authorities said Rosfeld pulled over the car Rose was in Tuesday night because it matched the description of a vehicle used just minutes earlier in a shooting in a neighboring town. As Rosfeld took the driver into custody, Rose and another not-yet-identified passenger jumped out of the car and ran.
Video footage recorded by an eyewitness shows Rosfeld shooting Rose in the back as he fled the scene. After gunshots were heard, the person recording the video gasps in shock and can be heard saying, “Why are they shooting at them? … All they did was run and they’re shooting at them?”
The teen, who lives in Rankin (a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania about 8 miles south of Pittsburgh), was taken to the hospital via ambulance and was pronounced dead at 9:10 p.m.
An eyewitness told WTAE-TV that she saw the whole thing go down from her porch. She said she saw officers approaching the vehicle with their guns drawn, and when the officers handcuffed the driver, that’s when the two passengers opened their doors and took off running. She then heard shots fired.
Police processing suspects gray car along Grandview Ave in East Pittsburgh. County investigators believe this car was involved in a separate shooting in N Braddock where man was wounded. Suspects fled. 1 suspect shot, another in custody and police still searching for the third. pic.twitter.com/xz1AuURF78
— Mike Holden (@WPXIMikeHolden) June 20, 2018
The shooting occurred in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a borough with about 2,000 residents in Allegheny County that is about 15 minutes outside the city of Pittsburgh. According to police, the incident began with another shooting in neighboring North Braddock. The 22-year-old male who was shot in the shooting police were initially responding to was taken to the hospital and survived.
Police said Officer Rosfeld fired three shots and Rose was hit three times. Allegheny County Police Department Superintendent Coleman McDonough said he “briefly saw” the video footage of the shooting.
“It’s important, however it has to be taken in the context of the entire investigation,” he said. “It’s a snapshot in time and while important, it will be factored into the larger totality of the investigation.”
McDonough added, “I understand in today’s atmosphere any time a young man is killed there’s cause for outrage in some areas. However, I would urge people to give us time to conduct an objective investigation, to gather facts. As you know, social media is so prolific now, some of the initial postings on social media that came out directly after this incident were inaccurate and inflammatory. So I would urge that people in the community give us a chance to conduct an investigation and I guarantee that’s what they will get from the Allegheny Police.”
McDonough said there are rare times when shooting someone in the back can be justified.
“It’s very complex, there are a lot of dynamics. There is something called a reactionary gap between the time a human perceives a threat and is able to act on it,” he explained. “Things happen, people turn around and things. I’m not saying that any of that applies to this situation because it’s too early and we can’t make judgments. Ultimately, our findings will go to the district attorney and he will make that judgment whether or not this was a justified use of force by a police officer.”
The investigation into Rose’s shooting is ongoing. Police said two firearms were found in the car Rose ran from, but authorities have said they didn’t find a gun near Rose or on his person after he was shot. Bystanders said he was not armed and had his back to officers when he was gunned down.
McDonough said the officer was conducting a “felony traffic stop” and ordered the driver out and had him “prone” on the ground. He said the officer also gave a command to the other occupants in the vehicle and that’s when they took off running. McDonough said he believes police gave Rose a verbal order before the shots were fired.
McDonough said he was confident the vehicle officers pulled over was the one used in the shooting. He said it matched the description given by eyewitnesses and had damage to the back window that was possibly caused by gunshots returned by the shooting victim during the first incident.
The driver of the vehicle was released after being interviewed by detectives and was not charged. The driver told police he worked as a jitney, an unlicensed cab driver, and was working in that role Tuesday night, according to the Post-Gazette. Police confirmed the driver had worked as a jitney in the past.
The other man who ran from the vehicle was not apprehended, and police are asking him to turn himself in “so that he can give a comprehensive description of what occurred.”
Antwon Rose’s shooting death at the hands of police has sparked outrage in the community and all over the United States. A rally was held in East Pittsburgh Wednesday amid a heavy rain shower.