PITTSBURGH - The attorney for the East Pittsburgh police officer charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose argued Tuesday that the judge assigned to the case might be biased.
Attorney Patrick Thomassey made the argument during a pre-trial conference, during which a trial date and jury selection was set for Feb. 26.
Thomassey said Judge Anthony Mariani appeared on “NightTalk” on PCNC and weighed in on whether the shooting was justified and whether there was adequate police training.
Rosfeld’s attorney just argued that Judge Mariani may be biased in this case. He said judge appeared on talk show “night talk” where he weighed in on if the shooting was justified and if there was adequate police training. @WPXI— Mike Holden (@WPXIMikeHolden) September 11, 2018
PCNC is the cable arm of WPXI and NightTalk is a live, primetime talk show exploring the current news topics of the day, with interviews of newsmakers and experts.
Mariani appeared on the talk show during a regularly scheduled segment on June 21, two days after Rose was shot and killed. He did not know he would be assigned the case when he spoke as a legal expert.
“We haven't seen things, but trying to speak generally, an officer just can't shoot somebody because he's heard that somebody may have had a gun,” Mariani said during the appearance. “But when he comes upon that person, he sees … not only does he not see a gun, but he sees the person's hands and doesn't see a gun. Sees the person's waist, doesn't see a gun. The person doesn't make movements that suggest he's going for a gun. If none of that is there, I don't think the statute protects the officer's conduct.”
Rosfeld is charged with criminal homicide in the death of Rose, who was shot as he and another teenager ran from a traffic stop on the night of June 19. Rose was unarmed.
Thomassey said Tuesday that there are questions over judicial rule of ethics. He asked Mariani to recuse himself.
Mariani argues he has nothing to gain from the case and if he needed to remove himself, he would have already done so.
“This case isn’t about who presides over it, but what happened or didn’t happen. This is a fact case,” Mariani said.
Mariani was assigned to the case Aug. 17. Protesters had called for Judge Jeffrey Manning to be removed after a decision to not revoke Rosfeld’s bond.
Rosfeld, who waived his preliminary hearing at the end of July, has been on house arrest. In late August, Rosfeld waived his right to a formal arraignment.
At the beginning of August, Rosfeld was named in a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by Rose’s family. The borough of East Pittsburgh, its mayor and the East Pittsburgh police chief were also named.
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