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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Jury selection is underway in a Harrisburg courtroom in the case of a white police officer accused of shooting to death an unarmed black teen in East Pittsburgh last summer.

Nine jurors were selected on Tuesday, and the selection process will resume on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

Once all are selected, the jurors will be transported to Allegheny County for the trial next week of Michael Rosfeld.

(Sketch Courtesy: Emily Goff)

At 12:30 p.m., the first two jurors were seated. Defense lawyers and prosecutors chose a retired railroad worker and an electronics company worker as the first of 12 jurors and four alternates that will be picked.

Rosfeld is the former East Pittsburgh police officer accused of criminal homicide for the June 2018 death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II.

Rosfeld walked into the Dauphin County courthouse with his lawyers on Tuesday morning.

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The shooting set off a series of protests that went on for weeks, and city and county officials are preparing for possible demonstrations during the trial. There is a gag order in the case.

Some of the protestors blocked city streets and interstates, creating traffic backups and inconveniences for city and county residents.

KDKA’s Lisa Washington Reports:


 

As a result of the protests and marches, the city of Pittsburgh established new rules to guide protests last year.

Protestors are not allowed to block certain intersections, including Boulevard of the Allies and Grant Street and Grant Street and First Avenue. Roadways, including the Parkways and Routes 28 and 51 are designated as red zones, being most critical. Protestors cannot block other red zones including hospital entrances or exits, bridges or tunnels.

Judge Alexander Bicket, from Allegheny County, is overseeing the jury selection in Dauphin County this week.

A judge ruled a jury from outside the Pittsburgh area is needed because of the widespread publicity about the case.

The defense lawyer for the 30-year-old Rosfeld has said the officer was in fear and argues the shooting was justified.

“Race is a big factor in this case,” said Dauphin County Attorney William Costopoulos. “You have a white young police officer, you have an unarmed African-American 17-year-old boy that was killed. So race is a big factor.”

(Photo Credit: Andy Sheehan/KDKA)

Dauphin County is about 20 percent African-American and 80 percent white, similar to Allegheny County. The prosecutors and the defense will be looking for different qualities in jurors.

“The defense is going to look for pro-police,” Costopoulos said. “The commonwealth is going to look for those that are not so sympathetic to the police, that have had bad experiences with the police.”

The trial is set to begin on March 19.

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