Two men filed a lawsuit Monday against East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, who is charged in the death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose.
The suit stems from an unrelated incident when Rosfeld was a University of Pittsburgh police officer, claiming he fabricated evidence against the men he arrested in December 2017.
The incident is what led to Rosfeld’s departure from the University of Pittsburgh Police Department, according to the attorney for the plaintiffs, Rob Pierce III.
Rosfeld was then hired by the East Pittsburgh Police Department where he was sworn in just 90 minutes before shooting and killing Rose on June 19 in an incident captured on video, leading to him being charged with criminal homicide.
The plaintiffs, Timothy Riley and Jacob Schilling, said they were forcefully removed from the Garage Door Saloon by its owner, who had also called 911.
They were then arrested by Rosfeld who charged them with simple assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct, claiming in his report that surveillance video supported the charges.
But Pierce said the surveillance video did not support the charges, which is why they were eventually dropped. The surveillance video has not been made public.
Pierce also said he has been talking to other citizens who also claim they were arrested by Rosfeld on fabricated charges.
According to Trib Live:
“Unfortunately, we’ve also been contacted by (more than a half-dozen) other citizens who’ve had similar situations with Officer Rosfeld, in particular where charges have in fact been dropped,” said attorney Rob Peirce III, who is representing Riley and Schilling.
Peirce said his firm is looking into those claims and anticipates “representing more in the near future.”
Mike Manko, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, said the charges were dropped at a Dec. 21 preliminary hearing “because we felt we could not sustain our burden of proof based on the evidence available.”
Also named in the suit is Mark Welshonse, owner of the Garage Door Saloon, who is accused of kneeing Riley in the groin and throwing Schilling to the ground.
The lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial, consists of charges of battery, civil rights violations, excessive force, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, false arrest and false imprisonment. They are seeking both punitive damages and money to cover court costs and attorneys’ fees.
A spokesperson for the University of Pittsburgh released the following statement:
“We are cooperating fully with the Allegheny County Police Department’s ongoing investigation. We have turned over all information we have regarding Michael Rosfeld’s time as a Pitt police officer.”
Peirce held a press conference yesterday at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas
Rosfeld’s next hearing on the Rose shooting is July 27.