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The Trial of Officer Michael Rosfield: Will There Be Justice for Antwon?

It took only four hours for a jury to decide Antwon Rose’s death was not a murder. A death where an unarmed black teenager was shot in the back by a white police officer was, in fact, not murder.

Antwon was certainly in the wrong place at the wrong time. He and his friend were pulled over while driving an unlicensed taxi. According to Vox, this car matched the description for one involved in a drive-by shooting that had occurred just moments earlier. When pulled over, both teenagers ran quickly from the officer, causing immediate suspicion.

Instead of making other attempts to stop the two teenagers, Officer Michael Rosfield chose to open fire. This ultimately resulted in the death of Antwon Rose after he was shot in the face, arm and back. It’s important to note that this incident happened just hours after Rosfield was sworn into the East Pittsburgh Police Department.

Vox reported that rookie Michael Rosfield gave conflicting statements when he was interviewed by detectives, initially saying Rose was carrying a gun only to later reveal he actually could not tell if the teenager was armed. The officer was charged with criminal homicide in Antwon Rose’s death, meaning he could have then been charged with murder or manslaughter (both involuntary or voluntary).

The very anticipated trial of Rosfield was over in four short hours. The jury had 23 witness testimonies and hundreds of exhibits to review but still made a quick choice, according to the Post-Gazette. That choice was to acquit Michael Rosfield of all charges. This decision was especially devastating to those close to Antwon, but also impacted the larger community who has been expressing their support for him and his family since his death.

In the state of Pennsylvania, police officers are allowed to use deadly force only when they believe it is necessary. Shots can be fired if needed to prevent death or serious injury to themselves or others; however, as the law is written, a gun can also be used if necessary to prevent a suspect from escaping arrest. This is what allowed Michael Rosfield’s verdict.

This is far from the first time this has happened. According to data from the Washington Post, at least 221 people have been shot dead by police in 2019. This number is growing every single day. A majority of these deaths had clear racial inconsistencies, meaning a white police officer shot a black victim. Police officers are rarely ever convicted for these deaths, if they are even charged.

With this information in mind, it’s clear why people are so outraged by the jury’s decision to acquit the rookie officer. In light of the trial, there have been protests throughout the city of Pittsburgh; there was even a walkout in many public schools. Others across the country have taken to social media to express their disagreement with this verdict. Many are questioning the very law that lead to this verdict and calling for reform.

Luckily, there may be another opportunity for justice for Antwon. Vox reported that the Rose family’s attorney announced that they are attempting to have this case challenged by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In the meantime, for anyone looking to show support, a Cashapp has been set up for direct donations: $AntwonsMother. You can also show your support through social media and, of course, continued protest.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4

Hanna is a senior studying Psychology, Administration of Justice, and Sociology. Hanna joined Her Campus for a writing outlet outside of classes.
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