A Pennsylvania jury acquited the officer who shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose following a short deliberation on Friday.
Rookie East Pittsburgh Police Department Michael Rosfeld encountered the teen during a traffic stop on June 27, 2018. The officer, who was sworn in a few hours before the shooting, pulled over an unlicensed taxi. It was believed the vehicle was involved in a drive-by shooting.
According to NPR, Rosfeld told the jury the teen and another passenger reportedly ran from the taxi, prompting the shooting. At the time, the officer claimed the two had a weapon on their persons. It was later reported Antwon was unarmed and shot in the back, arm and side of the face as he ran away.
An 18-year-old occupant of the same vehicle, identified as Zaijuan Hester, pleaded guilty to committing the drive-by. Antwon was an upstanding teen who was on the honor roll and had a passion for poetry.
"Rose's death sparked weeks of protests that shut down local roadways," said reporter An-Li Herring last year. "Demonstrators felt that Rose's death fit a national pattern of police brutality against Black residents."
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According to CBS Pittsburgh, the jury comprised of seven men and five women watched footage capturing the shooting as it happened. They deliberated for about three hours on Friday.
The central question jurors were tasked to answer was whether the shooting was justified. After the ruling, they determined it was.
Blavity reported Rosfeld had a history of inflicting harm on Black bodies before the Antwon Rose shooting. While working at the University of Pittsburgh, the officer assaulted a high-ranking official's Black son.
Crowds gathered outside the Allegheny County Courthouse and spread to the surrounding areas. Peaceful protests overtook the city following the verdict. Demonstrators were met head-on with riot-gear-clad officers, tear gas and more.
"How old was he?" "Seventeen!"— Jacob Paul (@JacobCBPaul) March 23, 2019
Nearly one thousand people marched through the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh to protest the acquittal of police office Michael Rosfeld, who shot and killed Antwon Rose, 17, during a traffic stop in June. Rose was unarmed. #AntwonRose pic.twitter.com/Xy7SA9eDwm
When I went to protest the murder of Antwon Rose in the streets of Pittsburgh this summer, police swarmed us in riot gear, surrounded us with pellet guns, got in people’s faces. All for PEACEFULLY protesting. pic.twitter.com/vTUxoxWOSX— sluggy (@slugflesh) March 23, 2019
"America's Most Livable City"— Gerardo Velasquez (@gerardoforsure) March 23, 2019
went out and caught the tail end of tonight's protest
RIP Antwon Rose, you deserve so much better than this#antwonrose #JusticeForAntwon #guilty #J4A pic.twitter.com/3doD9glICE
Local authorities confirmed demonstrations were quiet and self-contained. "Peaceful demonstration in East Liberty is resulting in multiple rolling/temporary road closures," Pittsburgh Police tweeted. "Be aware of delays."
The devastating news adds to many in a long list of acquittals for officials who shot unarmed Black citizens around the country. Rose's family have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Rosfeld, East Pittsburgh, the police chief and mayor.
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