PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In late March, a jury found that former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld acted within the law when he shot at two fleeing suspected felons — Zaijuan Hester and Antwon Rose II — whom he thought endangered both himself and potentially others following a drive-by shooting in North Braddock last June.
“Once you’re in a felony stop, the cop knew — Michael knew — that these kids been shooting at someone. So what goes through your mind as an officer?” noted Jesse Rawls, the jury foreman after the verdict.
Now a group of Democratic lawmakers is proposing to change the state law on the use of deadly force in order to prevent an officer from shooting at suspected felons who are running away.
On Tuesday, supporters of the legislative changes held a rally at the state Capitol — shouting the name of the young man whom Rosfeld shot as he ran away. “Who is he? Antwon Rose The Second,” supporters shouted as they jammed the Capitol rotunda to hear lawmakers and the mother of Antwon Rose speak.
“I’m hoping that this bill will enable a police officer to be held accountable the same way any other individual who committed murder in the state of Pennsylvania would be,” said Michelle Kenney, Rose’s mother.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus say the bills are not yet in final form, and they are open to recommendations from others.
But the measures will incorporate these points: modify police use of deadly force; require law enforcement agencies to keep detailed personnel records surrounding an officer leaving a job; appoint a special prosecutor to investigate any incident of deadly use of force involving a law enforcement officer; and reform the certification and decertification process for police officers.
“It didn’t have to be my son. It didn’t have to be anybody’s son. This could have been done a long time ago,” said Kenney.
No word yet on if or when the Republican-controlled Legislature will take up these issues.