A judge ordered Monday that a jury be selected from another county for the trial of a western Pennsylvania police officer accused in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager last year.
East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld is charged with homicide in the death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr., who was shot June 19 as he fled a traffic stop.
Judge Alexander Bicket ordered that a jury be chosen from outside Allegheny County, citing "pervasive prejudicial pre-trial publicity" that could deny Rosfeld an impartial jury. He said he expected media coverage to intensify with jury selection for a trial scheduled to begin in late February.
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey, who says Rosfeld believed the teen was armed, argued that media coverage of the shooting and protests would make a fair trial in the county impossible. The officer was charged after investigators said his story about whether he saw or believed he saw a gun in Rose's hand changed during his interview.
The car Rose was a passenger in, and which was later determined to be an unlicensed taxi, was stopped because it matched the description of a vehicle involved in a drive-by shooting that happened a few minutes earlier in a town neighboring East Pittsburgh. Prosecutors have said Rose was not armed and was not involved in that shooting.
Rose was shot in the back, elbow and jaw as he fled. Witnesses recorded portions of the shooting and posted it on social media. The shooting led to days of protests, including a late-night march that shut down a portion of a major highway.