Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto defended a letter he sent to Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning, saying it's his right as a citizen to share his opinion.
"I let it be known on a piece of paper, and I put a pen to it and I signed my name to it," he told 90.5 WESA earlier this week. "We all have our ways of letting each other know what we feel."
Peduto wrote to Manning last month asking the president judge to intervene in the case of East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, who shot and killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. in June. Rose was unarmed and fleeing when Rosfeld shot him three times. Although Rosfeld was charged with criminal homicide late last month, he has so far spent no time in jail.
Peduto's letter asked Manning to reconsider Senior District Judge Regis Welsh's decision to release Rosfeld on an unsecured $250,000 bond. Manning declined, but appended Welsh's decision to include electronic home monitoring.
"I may be the mayor, but I also have my constitutional rights to be able to say what I think is right and wrong," he said. "When the legal process makes a mistake -- and I believe this is a mistake -- I also have a duty, to keep the peace in this town, to be able to speak out and maybe speak for some people who feel their voice wouldn't be listened to if they wrote a letter."
Critics have argued Peduto shouldn't get involved in a criminal case: The shooting happened well outside the city. The mayor said this week that Rosfeld's release sends the wrong message, especially to residents upset by the implication that a white police officer received special treatment.
"There has to be a standard when the charge that you're facing is homicide," Peduto said. "And when that standard is not being met, you have to ask why. If elected officials aren't willing to ask why, then who is?"
Rosfeld faces a preliminary hearing at the end of the month.