PITTSBURGH (AP) – Prosecutors called more witnesses to the stand yesterday in the trial of a white former police officer charged with homicide for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager.
Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld’s trial continues into a third day in a Pittsburgh courtroom.
The first two days of testimony included compelling statements from witnesses and neighbours, one of whom said he heard Rosfeld panicking, repeatedly saying “I don’t know why I shot him. I don’t know why I fired”.
John Leach, who lives close to the site of the shooting, said on Wednesday he was on his front porch when Rosfeld fired three bullets into 17-year-old Antwon Rose II after pulling over an unlicensed taxicab suspected to have been used in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier. Rose was a front-seat passenger in the cab and was shot as he fled.
Leach said he saw other officers consoling Rosfeld as he was bent over hyperventilating.
Rosfeld’s attorney said the officer was justified in the shooting and did nothing wrong.
“You think Michael Rosfeld got up on the June 19 and thought he was going to shoot someone? Of course not,” he said.
Police have said Rosfeld changed his story about whether he saw or believed a gun was in Rose’s hands. Authorities said two guns were found in the car, one with Rose’s DNA on it, but it doesn’t appear to have been fired. An empty magazine was found in Rose’s pocket.
Witness Patrick Shattuck said on Wednesday he was standing outside a senior centre when Rosfeld pulled over the unlicensed cab in front of the building. About five minutes after the shooting, Shattuck said Rosfeld entered the building and said, “Why did he do that? Why did he do that? Why did he take that out of his pocket?”
East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis J Payne, who was also there, said he, too, heard Rosfeld said, “Why did he do that?” but said he didn’t hear the comment about the pocket.
Allegheny County Housing Authority Officer Charles Rozzo, who responded to the shooting, testified that a distraught Rosfeld asked him if he “saw the gun”.
It’s unclear what Rosfeld was referring to.
The video of the shooting, recorded by a neighbour, was posted online, triggering protests in the Pittsburgh area last year.