East Pittsburgh examining police force's future after fatal shooting of unarmed black teen

Officer Michael Rosfeld waived his right to a formal arraignment on Wednesday.

Local officials are reportedly mulling over the possibility of dissolving a Pittsburgh-area police department after one of its officers shot and killed an unarmed black teenager this summer.

East Pittsburgh council members discussed Tuesday having the borough's police force taken over by Allegheny County or consolidating it into other nearby departments, ABC News' Pittsburgh affiliate WTAE reported.

But those discussions are in the early stages and a decision on the fate of the police department has not yet been made, East Pittsburgh Council President Dennis Simon told WTAE.

Neither Simon nor the East Pittsburgh Police Department immediately responded to ABC News' request for comment on Wednesday.

Officer Michael Rosfeld of the East Pittsburgh Police Department was arrested and charged with one count of criminal homicide in connection with the death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose. The officer fatally shot Rose in East Pittsburgh on the night of June 19, after the teen and two other people were pulled over in a Chevrolet Cruze police believed was connected to a drive-by shooting earlier that night in nearby North Braddock.

Rose was unarmed when he was shot, authorities said. Detectives later determined that Zaijuan Hester, 17, was the individual who fired the .40-caliber pistol from the Chevrolet Cruze in the drive-by shooting that preceded Rose's killing. Hester was arrested and charged Wednesday morning with aggravated assault, criminal homicide, receiving stolen property and firearm charges, according to WTAE. He is being held at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.

At the time of the shooting June 19, Rosfeld had been on the job as an East Pittsburgh police officer for three weeks and was formally sworn in just hours before the deadly shooting happened. The Allegheny County Police Department is leading the investigation into the incident.

Rosfeld, 30, did not appear for his formal arraignment at the Allegheny County Courthouse on Wednesday morning, nor did his defense attorney. Instead, a representative for Rosfeld's attorney signed a waiver of arraignment and a pre-trial conference, according to WTAE. A trial date has been set for Sept. 7, WTAE reported.

Rosfeld, who has been placed on unpaid leave, was released from jail after posting bond on June 27. Allegheny County prosecutors argued that he should be denied bail because the criminal homicide charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. But they were ultimately overruled by the magisterial district judges presiding over the case.

Rosfeld waived his right to a preliminary hearing last month, allowing the case to move forward to trial.

Prosecutors argue fatal shooting was 'intentional'

Pat Thomassey, Rosfeld's attorney, told ABC News his client had reasonable belief that the individuals he pulled over in the car had been involved in a serious crime, citing the vehicle's busted windows, so Rosfeld fired his gun when the suspects allegedly fled.

But Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Rosfeld intentionally shot Rose to death, even though the teen "didn't do anything in furtherance" of a crime in North Braddock or East Pittsburgh.

"It's an intentional act and there's no justification for it," Zappala said during a news conference on June 27. "You do not shoot somebody in the back if they are not a threat to you."

Rose was struck three times from behind as he and another passenger fled on foot from Rosfeld. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner has ruled Rose's death a homicide.

Zappala said "neither of these young men were in possession of a weapon" when they were fleeing.

"There was no weapon that created a risk to Officer Rosfeld," Zappala told reporters at the June 27 news conference.

Zappala also said Rosfeld should have waited for backup after apprehending the driver, instead of instructing all passengers to exit the vehicle during the traffic stop.

Protests condemning Rose's killing consumed downtown Pittsburgh in the days after the shooting. The incident was captured by a bystander on cellphone video, which is being reviewed by authorities.

'Antwon did not fire a gun at all'

Detectives who interviewed Rosfeld, alongside his attorney, said they noticed an inconsistency in his account of what happened, according to an affidavit obtained by ABC News.

The officer allegedly told detectives that when the front-seat passenger emerged from the vehicle, the individual turned his hand toward Rosfeld, who saw something dark that he perceived as a gun. This caused him to fire his weapon, according to the affidavit.

But when detectives asked Rosfeld to go over the sequence of events again, the officer allegedly told them he didn't see a gun when the passenger exited the vehicle and ran. Detectives confronted him with the inconsistency, and Rosfeld allegedly stated that he saw something in the passenger's hand but was unsure what it was.

Rosfeld also allegedly stated that he was unsure whether the individual who had his hand pointed at him was still pointing at him when he fired the shots, according to the affidavit.

Rosfeld appeared "remorseful" during the interview with detectives, Zappala told reporters during the June 27 press conference.

Two guns were recovered from the light-gold Chevrolet Cruze from which Rose and the other passenger fled June 19: a 9 mm Glock pistol under the front portion of the passenger seat that had been reported lost that day in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, and a .40-caliber Glock pistol under the rear portion of the front passenger seat that had been reported stolen in 2016 in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania, according to the affidavit.

An examination of the firearms by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's crime laboratory determined that the spent casings recovered from the scene of the June 19 drive-by shooting in North Braddock were fired from the stolen .40-caliber pistol found in the Chevrolet Cruze in East Pittsburgh.

Rose was not armed when he was shot, authorities said. But an empty gun magazine was discovered in his right front pocket that fit the 9 mm pistol found in the Chevrolet Cruze, according to the affidavit.

"Antwon didn't do anything in North Braddock other than be in that vehicle," Zappala told reporters on June 27. "Antwon did not fire a gun at all ... the 9 mm was never discharged."

'A long road ahead'

Fred and Monte Rabner, two of the attorneys representing Rose's family, released a statement on June 27 reacting to the criminal homicide charge filed against Rosfeld.

"The Rose family views the filing of criminal homicide charges with guarded optimism," the attorneys said in the statement. "There is a long road ahead to a conviction and proper sentencing, which is the only thing we will accept as justice."

Rose's family is "devastated" and "stunned" by his death, Fred Rabner told ABC News in an interview in June.

The attorney described Rose as a "beautiful, kind" and hard-working teenager who worked with young children at a gymnastics gym, as well as at a Domino's Pizza location.

"This is not someone who was in trouble, ever," Fred Rabner said. "This is not a family that was anything but doting and loving about their son."

"It doesn't seem to me that there is any justification ever for shooting an individual who is fleeing in the back," he added.

ABC News' Armando Garcia, Jennifer Leong, Kenneth Moton, Dominick Proto and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.