HARRISBURG, Pa. — The foreman of the jury that acquitted former East Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Rosfeld in the killing of 17-year-old Antwon Rose has opened up about how the verdict was reached.
Jesse Rawls Sr. told WHTM-TV the jury watched video of the drive-by shooting in North Braddock that happened minutes before Rose was shot in East Pittsburgh while running from a traffic stop.
“Guy rolled down the window in the back seat and the guy fired nine shots at the guy on the corner, hit him once,” Rawls said.
Jurors also listened to the dispatch communication that indicated Rosfeld spotted a vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the drive-by.
Rosfeld did not wait for backup and tried to take control of the situation while the driver, Rose and Zaijuan Hester -- who later admitted to being the shooter -- were in the car.
“The testimony said that, in which we could hear some of it, that he asked the guy to throw the keys, turn the car off, throw the keys out, which he did. Take your right hand open the door, which he did. Get out with hands up, which he did. And walked back, which he did. Get on the ground, which he did,” Rawls said.
Moments later, Rose and Hester got out of the car and ran. Rosfeld then fired three shots, fatally hitting Rose, who was unarmed.
“Once you were in a felony stop, they knew the cop knew. Michael knew that these kids been shooting at someone, so what goes through your mind as an officer?” Rawls said.
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Rosfeld said he thought something was pointed at him and he fired to protect himself and the community. The shots were fired within a second.
“We also have the dispatch, the radio dispatch, talking about the whole process. We focused on that. We focused on the pictures. We even got up and demonstrate how could this happen,” Rawls said.
Rawls said there was a lot going through his mind before the trial started.
“Was he guilty? And I said to myself, ‘I can't be biased. I have to go with an open mind here.’ Wherever the testimony takes us, that's where I would go,” Rawls said. “You know what I found out? That when you sat down and you listened to all the evidence and you there, you're probably gonna … you're going to make the right decision.”
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