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Pittsburgh police officer charged with homicide in shooting of black teen

A white police officer was charged Wednesday for criminal homicide in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager who fled a traffic stop after being pulled over on suspicion of involvement in a drive-by shooting.

Michael Rosfeld, sworn in on day of the shooting, charged in death of Antwon Rose Jr., 17

Antwon Rose appeared in this undated campaign ad for a Pennsylvania politician. Rose was shot and killed on June 19. (John Fetterman for Lieutenant Governor via AP)

A white police officer was charged Wednesday for criminal homicide in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager who fled a traffic stop after being pulled over on suspicion of involvement in a drive-by shooting.

The charge against East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld is outlined in court documents. The 30-year-old turned himself in Wednesday morning, his lawyer said. He was released on $250,000 bond and faces a July 6 hearing. 

Rosfeld is charged in the June 19 death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. He had been sworn in just hours before the shooting, but had been working at the police department for two to three weeks.

Authorities have said Rose and another teen, who was arrested this week, fled after being pulled over on suspicion they were involved in a drive-by shooting. Rose was shot three times, leading to daily protests around Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said at a news conference Wednesday "you do not shoot someone in the back if they are not a threat to you."

Zappala said the officer's actions clearly support a third-degree murder conviction but they will ask the jury to consider a full range of charges, including first-degree murder.

Zappala said Rosfeld is remorseful.

This undated photo provided by the Allegheny County District Attorney shows Michael Rosfeld, an East Pittsburgh, Pa., police officer. Rosfeld was charged with homicide Wednesday. (Allegheny County District Attorney via AP)

Rosfeld pulled over the car that Rose was a passenger in on the night of June 19, about 15 minutes after reports of a drive-by shooting in nearby North Braddock. A 22-year-old man was shot in the abdomen, and was treated and released from the hospital.

A witness described a car from that shooting that matched the one Rose was a passenger in. A bystander from a nearby home captured video of a portion of the stop and the shooting.

As Rosfeld is taking the driver of the car into custody, the back door can be seen opening and Rose and the other teen can be seen running from the car. They run. The officer fires three shots.

At first, Rosfeld told detectives that when Rose got out of the car, he saw something "he perceived as a gun." Rosfeld says he then stepped behind his car door and fired his weapon.

But the criminal complaint says the officer later told detectives he did not see a gun.

The complaint reveals Rose was shot in the back, the side of his face and his elbow. He was unarmed but had an empty gun magazine in his pocket.

Rosfeld has been on administrative leave since the shooting.

Arrest made related to original investigation

The charge comes a day after authorities arrested the second teen who was seen running from the car the night of the shooting. Authorities say they expect to charge that teen, whose name had not been released as of Wednesday morning, in connection with the drive-by shooting that started the chain of events that led to Rose's shooting.

Rosfeld, of Penn Hills, had worked at several other police departments, including at the University of Pittsburgh, during the last seven years.

Public protests, including this one Tuesday, have taken place in the days after the shooting death of Antwon Rose of Pittsburgh. (Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

A mayor of a town about 30 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh is facing sharp criticism for comments she allegedly made on social media suggesting people protesting the killing of Rose should be hit with water cannons.

Arnold Mayor Karen Peconi is accused of sharing a video on her personal Facebook page of water cannons being used on protesters elsewhere, and writing comments such as "we need one of these" and "bring the hoses."

WTAE-TV reports Peconi denied making the posts Monday.

Several city council members have condemned the posts, with one councillor calling on Peconi to resign.

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