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Judge Mariani assigned to Michael Rosfeld case, the cop accused of killing teen Antwon Rose

September 1, 2018
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Michael Rosfeld

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani has been assigned to the case against Michael Rosfeld, the East Pittsburgh police officer accused of homicide in the killing of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, court records show.

Rosfeld, 30, was charged a week after shooting Rose three times as the Woodland Hills High School student ran away from police during a felony traffic stop on June 19. Rose was pronounced dead a short time later at UPMC McKeesport hospital.

Rose was unarmed but had an empty handgun magazine in his pocket that matched one of two guns later found in the car that had been stopped.

The death of Rose spurred national attention and weeks of protests throughout greater Pittsburgh in the name of social justice, opposing police brutality and improving use-of-force policies across the region.

Activists held protests demanding that Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Jeffrey A. Manning not be assigned to the homicide case against Rosfeld, calling instead for the case to be handed off to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and tried in Philadelphia.

Activists further demanded that Rosfeld - who is free on house arrest on a $250,000 unsecured bond - be sent to jail t await trial. Manning modified Rosfeld’s bond to include electronic monitoring.

Court records updated Friday show that Mariani, who is based in Downtown Pittsburgh, will oversee the case.

“Judge Mariani is a good guy. I’m glad he got it,” Pat Thomassey, Rosfeld’s attorney, told the Tribune-Review by phone late Friday. Thomassey declined to comment further on the case, saying he and his client would take it one step at a time.

Mariani, who earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Pittsburgh before his admission to the bar in 1980, is serving a 10-year term that expires in 2025. He was re-elected in 2015 with about 76 percent of the vote.

A formal arraignment has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Separately, Rose’s family filed a federal civil lawsuit earlier this month contending that Rosfeld used “excessive and deadly force” when he shot Rose without giving any verbal warning “or attempting any pursuit whatsoever.”

Rosfeld had stopped the car in which Rose was riding minutes after a drive-by shooting in North Braddock and ordered the three occupants out of the vehicle. The car matched the description of one involved in the earlier shooting.

As Rosfeld ordered the driver to the ground, Rose and another teen sitting in the backseat ran from the scene.

Rosfeld initially told investigators that he saw Rose turn his hand and display “something dark that (Rosfeld) perceived as a gun,” according to the criminal complaint filed when the officer was charged.

When detectives later asked Rosfeld to go over the sequence of events in the incident, he told them that he did not see a gun, the complaint said.

The civil lawsuit contends that Rose got out of the passenger seat and showed his empty hands to Rosfeld, who had his gun pointed at the teen.

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that East Pittsburgh borough council, Mayor Louis Payne and police Chief Lori Fruncek failed to properly train its police officers, which resulted in Rose’s death.

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