County Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani was assigned to preside over the homicide trial of Pittsburgh police Officer Michael H. Rosfeld who shot and killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose on June 19. However, comments he made on television led to the judge being removed from the case.
Two days after Rose was killed, Mariani went on a local cable TV talk show and said, “Frankly, shooting somebody running away — even if you think that person committed a felony — when he clearly doesn’t have a weapon on him, is not acceptable, as it was 50, 60 or 70 years ago.” He continued, “An officer can’t just shoot somebody because he’s heard that somebody may have had a gun, but when he comes upon that person, he sees the person’s hands and doesn’t see a gun.”
Clearly, the defense for Rosefeld wouldn’t want someone who spoke this much truth to preside over the trial. According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, defense attorney Patrick Thomassey demanded Mariana recuse himsel,f but the judge insisted he could be fair. Now, reports the newspaper, “at a hearing Wednesday to address a request for a gag order from the prosecution, the judge said he believed it would be best to step aside.” Mariani is no longer on the case, it will now be Judge Alexander P. Bicket.
On June 19, Officer Michael H. Rosfeld, who was sworn in hours before the incident, fatally shot Rose. During a traffic stop, officers, including Rosfeld, claimed they were investigating a nearby shooting. The driver, Rose and one other person were in the car. The driver was arrested. The other passenger escaped, but was arrested on June 26. Rose allegedly ran and was shot in the back three times. As for the nearby shooting to which officers were responding, investigators confirmed Rose was not involved in the incident.
We hope the family of Antwon Rose gets justice.