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Protests continue in Pittsburgh after officer acquitted in fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II

Protests over the jury's verdict to acquit the officer who killed Antwon Rose II last year were described as peaceful.
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Shots were fired into the Pennsylvania office of the attorney for a white police officer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Antwon Rose II, and protests over the verdict continued Saturday.

No one was hurt in the drive-by shooting apparently directed at the office of attorney Pat Thomassey in Monroeville late Friday, said Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole.

Michael Rosfeld, 30, a former officer in East Pittsburgh, was found not guilty of homicide Friday in the 2018 shooting of Rose.

Protesters on Saturday gathered at an intersection called Freedom Corner in the city's Hill District neighborhood, the historic center of black cultural life in Pittsburgh, the Associated Press reported.

One man held a sign with the names of black men killed by police around the U.S.

"It's very painful to see what happened, to sit there and deal with it," Rose's father, Antwon Rose Sr., told the crowd. "I just don't want it to happen to our city no more. It's happening like every other day. We've got to do more in our community so they have more stuff to do."

Marchers move through the streets in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 23, 2019. The group was calling for justice the day after former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld was acquitted in the homicide trial where he was charged with shooting and killing 17-year-old Antwon Rose II in the summer of 2018 near Pittsburgh.Keith Srakocic / AP

The front of Thomassey’s office and a front window were damaged by the gunfire, and Cole said investigators believe five to eight shots were fired.

"Certainly we believe that this is in response to the Rosfeld trial, and certainly it’s not something that’s warranted here in any community," Cole said.

The police chief said “many homes” were occupied within 50 feet of the office in a residential area.

Rose, a 17-year-old high school student, was in the front seat of an unlicensed taxicab when the back-seat passenger rolled down a window and shot at two men on the streets of North Braddock.

Rose was shot as he and another teen ran away during a traffic stop from a vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the shooting, police said. Rose was unarmed. Two guns were found inside the vehicle.

A police affidavit said Rosfeld gave conflicting statements to investigators, including that he saw something in Rose’s hand that he thought was a gun.

Investigators said Rosfeld subsequently told them he did not see a gun when the passenger ran.

Video of the incident captured by a bystander and posted online triggered a series of protests in the Pittsburgh area last year that included a late-night march that shut down a major highway.

The Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said on Twitter that demonstrations Saturday were peaceful.

Protesters held signs, including one that read "Justice for Antwon" and "Black Lives Matter," and during demonstrations chanted: "No justice, no peace. No racist police."

A bullet hole is visible in the lower right corner of a window at the office of attorney Patrick Thomassey on March 23, 2019 in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Monroeville police say that one and another were discovered Saturday, the day after his client, former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, was acquitted in the homicide trial where he was charged with shooting and killing 17-year-old Antwon Rose II last summer near Pittsburgh.Keith Srakocic / AP

The 12-person jury — including three black members — saw video of the fatal confrontation. The acquittal came after less than four hours of deliberations on the fourth day of the trial.

Rose family attorney S. Lee Merritt said after the verdict that “unfortunately, we have come to expect this kind of outcome all throughout the country." He said the family is "devastated."

Rosfeld had been with the East Pittsburgh Police Department for just a few weeks after working for other departments over seven years.

The person in the back seat of the car who shot at two people on the street, hitting one in the abdomen, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated assault and firearms violations, the AP reported.

Zaijuan Hester, 18, told the judge that he, not Rose, did the shooting, according to the AP.

Thomassey said after the verdict Friday that the jury “listened to the facts, they listened to the law, and in my opinion, they rendered the correct verdict."

He said "this case had nothing to do with race" and that Rosfeld was doing his job.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in a statement Friday that although he disagreed with the verdict, the jury had spoken.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement after the verdict that he grieves with Rose's family, friends and the community.

"Words cannot heal the pain so many are feeling," Peduto said. "Only action can begin the process, a process that will take work and understanding. An understanding that inequality exists and we have a moral obligation to address it."