Judge to Consider Recusal for TV Comments on Shooting

PITTSBURGH (CN) — The Pennsylvania judge presiding over a police-shooting case agreed to hold a hearing next week on whether a cable news interview he gave after the shooting requires him to recuse himself.

Judge Anthony Mariani with the Allegheny County Common Pleas appeared on “Night Talk” back in June, shortly after East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld shot Antwon Rose Jr., an unarmed 17-year-old, while Rose attempted to flee a traffic stop.

Later that month Rosfeld was charged with criminal homicide, and Judge Mariani was assigned to the case.

Patrick Thomassey, an attorney for who represents the 30-year-old officer, asked Mariani Tuesday during a pretrial hearing to recuse himself based on the interview Mariani gave after reviewing bystander footage of the shooting.

Though Thomassey said Mariani appeared to speculate that the shooting might not have been justified, and that Rosfeld shot Rose out of frustration, Mariani said he was inclined to stay on the case, believing he could weigh the evidence fairly.

Still the judge set a hearing date for Sept. 21 in case Thomassey wanted to make a formal motion to have him removed before Rosfeld’s trial begins on Feb. 26, 2019.

Neither Thomassey nor prosecutor Lee Merrit have returned phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Thomassey indicated in court Tuesday that he also plans to file a motion to have the jury selection take place in a different county because of the wide amount of publicity the case has received.

Rosfeld was charged after investigators said his story changed during interrogation as to whether he saw or believed he saw Rose with a gun.

Thomassey argued Tuesday that Rosfeld was justified in firing his weapon because he believed the teen had a gun.

Though prosecutors say Rose did not participate in a drive-by shooting that happened a few minutes earlier in a neighboring town, the car Rose was a passenger in matched the description of a vehicle that was involved.

Rose, who is black, was shot by the white officer in the back, elbow and jaw. Witnesses recorded portions of the shooting and posted the footage to social media.

The shooting led to days of protests including a late-night march that shut down part of a major highway.

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