Judge OKs evidence of prior drive-by in cop’s homicide case
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A judge ruled on the eve of trial Monday that jurors in the case of a white western Pennsylvania police officer accused of shooting to death an unarmed black teenager last summer will hear evidence about a drive-by shooting that happened about 15 minutes before Antwon Rose II was killed.
Judge Alexander Bicket allowed testimony at the trial of former East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld regarding the drive-by shooting that involved the vehicle in which 17-year-old Rose was a passenger. The trial begins Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Rosfeld’s lawyer has said Rose’s shooting was justified.
Another passenger in the unlicensed taxi, Zaijuan Hester, 18, of Swissvale, pleaded guilty on Friday to aggravated assault and firearms violations for the drive-by shooting that left a man with an abdominal injury.
Hester told a judge that he was the shooter and not Rose.
Bicket also said he does not intend to let jurors hear details about a robbery that Rosfeld’s lawyer says involved Rose before the drive-by incident and before his fatal shooting. Bicket said that decision, which prosecutors supported, may be revisited.
The Tribune-Review reported Monday that Rosfeld defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said evidence about the purported robbery was necessary to tell the complete story and will bolster Rosfeld’s belief that someone who exited the vehicle had pulled a gun on him.
Rose was shot three times, including in the back, as he ran from a vehicle Rosfeld had pulled over.
Rose was unarmed at the time, but authorities have said two guns were inside the vehicle and an empty ammunition clip was in his pocket.
The trial of Rosfeld, 30, of Verona, will be heard by a jury picked last week in Harrisburg.