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Cop Who Shot Unarmed Black Teen Just After Being Sworn in Changed His Story

There’s an update in the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. that sparked outrage and protests in Pittsburgh: the officer who pulled the trigger has been charged with criminal homicide.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala made the announcement Wednesday from a podium in an extended press briefing.

East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, 30, has officially been charged for the shooting. Rosfeld turned himself in and is out on bond. Rosfeld pulled over a car on June 19 just 90 minutes after he’d been sworn and after three weeks of duty in East Pittsburgh. He pulled over a vehicle that reportedly matched a description of one involved in a drive-by shooting, a shooting that left a 22-year-old man with gunshot wounds.

When Rosfeld pulled over the car and cuffed the driver, Rose and 17-year-old Zaijuan Hester ran. Rosfeld shot Rose three times, once in the back, and Rose did not survive.

Rose was not armed.

Rosfeld’s story was reportedly not consistent.

According to CBS News, Rosfeld first told investigators that Rose “turned his hand toward” him and that he “saw something dark that he perceived as a gun,” but that this story changed.

“During that rendition, Rosfeld told the detectives that he did not see a gun when the passenger emerged and ran. When confronted with this inconsistency, Rosfeld stated he saw something in the passenger’s hand but was not sure what it was,” detectives said. “In addition, Officer Rosfeld stated that he was not certain if the individual who had his arm pointed at him was still pointing at him when he fired the shots.”

DA Zappala said Rose did nothing wrong during the drive-by shooting that happened before he was killed and that Rosfeld’s “acts were intentional brought about the the result he was wishing to accomplish.”

“By all accounts Mr. Rose never did anything in furtherance of any crimes in North Braddock,” Zappala said, adding that neither of the fleeing teens were armed and that Rosfeld admitted he did not see a weapon.

“[Rose’s] family are very distraught about the loss of their son, who by all accounts was a good kid,” he said. Attorney Fred Rabner told ABC the family is “devastated” and “stunned.”

The shooting also sparked civil unrest in the area, with many taking to the streets in protest.

“Three shots in the back, how do you justify that,” many chanted.

It is not often that one sees a police officer charged for a shooting and even rarer that one is convicted. One case that came to mind was the 2015 shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina by former officer Michael Slager. There was a traffic stop and Scott ran, only to be shot multiple times in the back. Slager is serving 20 years after pleading guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights.

[Image via East Pittsburgh Police]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.