Robert Hampton, American Renaissance, March 27, 2019
A white former police officer was acquitted over the weekend in the shooting death of a 17-year-old black man in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The jury took less than four hours to find Michael Rosfeld—the 30-year-old ex-cop who shot Antwon Rose last June—not guilty of murder.
The media are telling us the verdict was a terrible injustice. “The acquittal of police officers who murder black children in cold blood is a feature of American society,” Rolling Stone senior writer Jamil Smith tweeted. “It is not some gross malfunction or sign of things going awry. This is how our system is designed to work.”
“A Pennsylvania jury just concluded shooting an unarmed black child in the back as he ran away is not murder, it’s not even criminal,” Rose family attorney Lee Merritt tweeted. “I will never be able to make peace with that. Everything has to change.”
What were the facts?
Mr. Rosfeld shot Rose as he ran from a car the officer had pulled over. The car matched the description of a vehicle thought to have been used in a drive-by shooting just minutes before. The now-former officer claimed he saw Rose raise his hand and point what looked like a gun at him. Officer Rosfeld fired three shots.
Most coverage of the case failed to mention that Rose participated in the drive-by shooting, and a victim thought Rose was the man who shot him: “The beef was between me and him, that car came by, he shot me.” There was some confusion about the identification, however, and 18-year-old Zaijuan Hester pleaded guilty to the shooting. He ran from the car, along with Rose.
Even if Rose was not the shooter, he had gunshot residue on his hands and an empty magazine in his pocket. There was a gun with his DNA on it under his car seat, and Rose probably helped with the hit.
The media generally left out these details. The New York Times reported only that Rose was pulled over in a car that matched the description of one used in a drive-by, not that it was the car. Nor did the Times mention the powder residue or empty magazine. A video of the shooting and biased reporting had already convinced blacks and liberals that the officer murdered an innocent boy.
The media also tried to portray Rose as an upstanding young man. A few days before the verdict, CNN reported that “those who knew Rose described him as a generous, promising student who volunteered regularly at a free store that provided clothes, food and other items to members of the community.” CNN also complained that there were only three blacks on the jury.
The black website Blavity published an article called “9 Things To Know About The Life And Death Of Antwon Rose Jr., the 17-Year-Old Honor Student Killed By A Cop.” The important facts: He volunteered at a non-profit, liked to skate, and wrote a poem two years ago. Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were also portrayed as noble children who did no wrong.
Mr. Rosfeld made a split-second decision in a dangerous situation with two criminals who had just used a gun in a serious crime. He thought he saw one of them brandish a gun. “It happened very quickly,” he said. “My intent was to end the threat that was made against me.”
A use-of-force expert called in Mr. Rosfeld’s defense said the officer’s actions were “textbook.” “I can’t fault Officer Rosfeld,” retired Pennsylvania State Trooper Clifford Jobe Jr. testified. Jesse Rawls, the black jury foreman, said he and the jury came to the same conclusion. He told local news that the suspects “brought it on themselves” with their criminal behavior. “Once you were in a felony stop, they knew the cop knew, Michael [Rosfeld] knew that these kids been shooting at someone. So what goes through your mind as an officer?” he asked.
This won’t make much difference. On Monday, hundreds of college and high school students skipped class to demonstrate, and some got violent. Mr. Merritt, the Rose family attorney, wants to challenge the verdict in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and “on the federal level.” The family has already filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mr. Rosfeld, East Pittsburgh, its mayor, and its police chief.
Just hours after the verdict, someone shot up the office of Mr. Rosfeld’s lawyer, Patrick Thomassey. No one was there, but bullets hit the windows, walls, a chair, and the paper shredder. Twitter posts celebrated the shooting. Someone also tried to cut the power to a billboard in nearby Armstrong County that defended the verdict.
Local black officials are fueling the anger. “Tonight I grieve with Antwon’s family, friends, and the entire community,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “Words cannot heal the pain so many are feeling.” Maxwell King, president of the Pittsburgh Foundation, and Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments, issued a joint statement:
Pittsburgh now sadly joins a disturbing and ever-growing catalogue of cases across the United States where law enforcement or security officials have walked free after the killings of young black men under questionable circumstances. We have asked the question, ‘Would Antwon Rose be alive today if he had been white?’
Pittsburgh is like most big cities. In 2012, blacks were 26.6 times more likely than whites to be arrested for murder, and far more likely to be arrested for robbery, rape, and aggravated assault. Activists claim this is proof of racism.
There hasn’t been a Ferguson-style riot over a police shooting since Donald Trump was elected, but that could change any time. The East Pittsburgh Police Department was disbanded in November because of the Rose shooting, and this could mean more crime. The backlash over the verdict could also have a “Ferguson effect:” Police pull back from high-crime areas for fear they will be sacrificed for doing their jobs, and crime rises. FBI data showed that violent crime rose in Baltimore and Chicago after anti-police protests. Pittsburgh could join the club.