Officer’s lawyer asks judge to recuse over TV comments

PITTSBURGH — The attorney for a Pennsylvania officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager as he fled a traffic stop Tuesday asked the judge in the case if he would be willing to recuse himself.

Attorney Patrick Thomas­sey, who represents East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, asked Judge Anthony Mariani during a pre-trial hearing to recuse himself because of comments that he made on a cable news program about whether the shooting was justified.

The comments were made before he was assigned to the case. Thomassey said Mariani used language suggesting that the bystander video of the incident might show the shooting wasn’t justified and saying the officer might have shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. out of frustration.

Mariani said Tuesday that he was able to be fair and was inclined to stay on the case, but he set a hearing date for Sept. 21 if Thomassey wanted to make a formal motion to have him removed.

Rosfeld, 30, is charged with criminal homicide in the June shooting death of Rose as he fled a traffic stop. The officer was charged after investigators said his story about whether he saw or believed he saw a gun in Rose’s hand changed during his interview.