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No satisfaction until cop is convicted in Antwon Rose shooting vow leaders, family, lawyers in tragic Pittsburgh incident

By Michael Z. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Jul 3, 2018 - 8:18:49 PM

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Marchers raise their fi sts as they protest the shooting death of Antwon Rose Jr. on June 26 in Pittsburgh. Rose was fatally shot by a police officer seconds after he fled a traffic stop June 19, in the suburb of East Pittsburgh. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

PHILADELPHIA—East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld faces one count of criminal homicide in the shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose and was arrested and released after posting unsecured $250,000 bail.

An attorney for the young man’s family called the charges a first step in a long process to get justice for the unarmed teenager shot to death while running away from police officers following a traffic stop.

According to Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, which deemed the shooting a homicide, Antwon was shot on the right side of his face, with a bullet exiting near the bridge of his nose; inside the right elbow and to the right of his spine and was shot in the back. That shot was fatal, hitting his lung and heart after he fled from a police stop on June 19.

Media reports said Antwon was in a car suspected in an earlier shooting but did not appear to be the shooter and Officer Rosfeld made inconsistent statements about whether he believed Antwon had a gun when opening fire.

Pennsylvania law says criminal homicide includes murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.

Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala said in published reports he believes Officer Rosfeld acted “recklessly and without justification,” and evidence supports charges of manslaughter and third-degree murder. Mr. Zappala said his office has a “right to argue murder in the first degree”, which the state code classifies as an “intentional killing.”

East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld has been charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of Antwon Rose II. Photos: MGN Online

The community remains vigilant with protests continuing to roil, according to activists. A demonstration was held June 27 at the home of the accused officer.

To understand the strain such shootings cause in the Black community, one needs to look no further than a recent study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and Harvard. Researchers looked at the mental health effect on Black Americans when there is a police killing of an unarmed Black person in their community.  The results show that following this kind of horror, Black people experience a stress level equivalent to living with a chronic illness.

Antwon Rose II
Victor Muhammad, the representative of the Nation of Islam Pittsburgh area study group, spoke at Antwon’s funeral, and shared his insights in an interview with The Final Call. “The funeral was very diverse. This brother was biracial. His grandmother is Caucasian, and his mother worked for the police for 14 years. His grandfather is a police officer in a neighboring municipality,” said Mr. Muhammad.

“There have been a litany of incidents (where) the district attorney has been turning a blind eye, and the community has had enough of it. Antwon’s was the second back shooting in Allegheny County since February. The D.A., even in the face of video evidence, made the February shooting of Mark Daniels, a Black man shot in the back, a justifiable homicide,” said Mr. Muhammad. “This police officer had shot two other Black people in 10 months’ time.”

Crime scene where a Pennsylvania officer shot, killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose II who was fleeing at traffic stop.

In the Rose case, Mr. Muhammad said the officer was freed on $250,000 bail and did not have to put any money up. Off. Rosfeld was in and out in thirty-five minutes, he added. “The district attorney is up for reelection next year. The spotlight that has shown on the city in this most recent incident has made him respond differently.”

Student Minister Muhammad also noted diversity among protesters and community activists. “The activism has brought out support across racial lines; even Whites are calling for justice,” he noted. “These shooting and killings by police are happening all the time here and White people are not being prosecuted.  Black people are sick of it.”

Mr. Muhammad believes the arrest of the officer had little to do with justice but was politically motivated. “Pittsburgh is in the race for the new Amazon headquarters and this incident puts a bad stain on the area, it’s all politics. The officer is on house arrest and is still collecting his paycheck on administrative leave,” he said.

Allegany State Rep. Ed_Gainey
Allegheny State Representative Ed Gainey told The Final Call in a telephone interview that the arrest of the officer presents an excellent opportunity for the judicial system to show a willingness to discipline one of their own. “The first action has been done with the charge against him. We can’t be satisfied until he is convicted. So, we have to continue to keep the pressure on to assure that we get justice for Antwon Rose and a victory for the people of America demonstrating that when we come together, we can build better humanity.” 

“I think the recent indictment was nothing more than pacifying the people,” said Pittsburgh activist Nicky Jo Dawson. “It is intended to get us to stop protesting and believe the system is going to work in our favor, but we can see through it. The charge against Off. Rosfeld is a single charge, an H1 grade criminal homicide which only warrants probation. It was nothing more than a publicity stunt to appease the masses to slow the protest, but we are hip to their game.”

Leon Ford, shot five times by Pittsburgh police on the night of November 20, 2012, was left permanently paralyzed. He beat what he called bogus charges filed against him. He performed the eulogy at Antwon’s funeral and introduced Minister Muhammad to the Rose family. He told The Final Call an excellent first step was charging the officer. “I think this goes to show that actions can have consequences. The leadership in our community has had enough of law enforcement killing Black people. They stepped up and forced the situation, and the district attorney had a minimal choice but to bring charges,” said Mr. Ford. “It’s clear Antwon was not involved in the alleged crime and was not a threat to the officer.”

“I think the D.A. laid out a strong case and the evidence was clear,” he added.

According to Mr. Ford, the officer who shot him in 2013 was promoted to detective.

Longtime activist Leonard Hammonds, founder of a Pittsburgh grassroots program called Hammonds Initiative, told The Final Call, “While I’m glad the officer was charged what I am unhappy about was he received a single charge, whereas the young man arrested for the alleged drive-by shooting had multiple charges. That young man remains incarcerated. The police officer released on his signature,” said Mr. Hammond. He was referring to the youth driving the car from which Antwon fled.

“The one positive in this situation is the coming together of the community. Muslims and Christians and people from all walks of life have unified for a common cause to bring justice for the family of Antwon Rose. I salute Minister Victor Muhammad who has been crucial to this coalition,” he said.