Witnesses: Rosfeld was crying, shaking, panicking, distraught after shooting Rose
Michael Rosfeld was crying and shaking in the moments after he fired three shots into 17-year-old Antwon Rose II last June in a grassy East Pittsburgh lot, witnesses testified Wednesday.
Residents who saw the shooting and police officers who responded to the scene told the jury that Rosfeld questioned why he shot Rose, why the teenager ran and if others had seen a gun.
The witnesses were among the 12 people who testified Wednesday. Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Daniel Fitzsimmons said the prosecution has three or four more witnesses to call Thursday and then could rest its case.
Rosfeld, a former East Pittsburgh police officer, is charged with one count of homicide in the shooting death of Rose. The trial started Tuesday.
John Leach, a neighbor who lived two houses away from the shooting scene on Grandview Avenue, testified Wednesday that he walked within 4 or 5 feet of Rose’s body after he was shot. He said Rosfeld was panicking.
“He kept repeating the same thing over and over and over. ‘I don’t know why I shot. I don’t know why I fired,’ ” Leach said.
Charles Rozzo, an officer with the Allegheny County Housing Authority police who responded to the shooting, said he and his partner took Rosfeld to their vehicle, let him sit in the front passenger seat and took his weapons.
“He was clearly upset,” Rozzo said of Rosfeld.
On cross examination, Rozzo told defense attorney Patrick Thomassey that Rosfeld asked several times how the teenager he just shot was doing. Rozzo said Rosfeld also asked him to call his wife for him.
Rosfeld also asked, “Did you see the gun?” Rozzo testified.
Thomassey asked Rozzo if Rosfeld seemed concerned. Rozzo said he did.
DAY 2 COVERAGE
• Testimony concludes on Day 2 of Rosfeld trial; prosecution could rest Thursday
• Legal opinions vary on significance of testimony about Rosfeld’s emotions
• Letter from Antwon Rose’s mother to prosecutors doesn’t indicate rift, experts say
Other police officers who were at the scene testified Wednesday about attempting to save Rose as he lay handcuffed and dying. No testimony thus far has indicated that Rosfeld attempted to aid Rose after he shot him.
East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis Payne testified that he swore in Rosfeld as an officer about an hour before the shooting. The ceremony happened before a borough council meeting inside the community meeting space near the shooting scene. The council meeting wrapped up minutes before the shooting. Payne recalled hearing gunshots.
Patrick Shattuck, who works in community development and was at the borough meeting that night, watched with Payne as Rosfeld made the traffic stop. Shattuck testified that as soon as the cars pulled over, Rosfeld was out of his vehicle with his gun drawn, demanding the driver show his hands and throw the keys out the window.
Rosfeld’s tone was authoritative, Shattuck said.
“Like you’d expect,” Thomassey said.
Shattuck suggested he and Payne go back inside the building.
“Something just didn’t feel right,” Shattuck said on the stand. “There was a tension.”
He said as Rosfeld held his weapon, he could see his hands shaking.
When Shattuck was back in the community building, he said Rosfeld walked in, put his firearm on a table and sat down.
Rosfeld was crying, Shattuck said. He said he heard Rosfeld say, without prompting, “Why did he do that? Why did he do that? Why did he take that out of his pocket?”
Allegheny County Police Detective Anthony Perry, who is the lead investigator on the case, testified that two guns were found in the Chevy Cruze that Rosfeld stopped. A 9mm Glock 26 with an extended magazine was found under the front part of the front passenger seat. A .40-caliber Glock 22 with an extended magazine was found under the back part of the front passenger seat.
Rose’s DNA was on the 9mm handgun. DNA from backseat passenger Zaijuan Hester, 18, who also fled the stop, was found on the .40-caliber pistol. Thomassey wielded the unloaded weapons in court Wednesday, mimicking their positions under the car seats.
Gunshot residue was found on Rose’s hand, said Dennis Wolfe, a scientist in the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office. Wolfe explained to jurors that levels of residue he found on Rose meant that the teen could have fired a gun, been near a gun or touched something with residue on it.