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Police and state lawmakers alike agree that state laws need to be updated in the wake of the fatal East Pittsburgh police shooting of unarmed teenager Antwon Rose II.
Tuesday, Pittsburgh police Chief Scott Schubert and Allegheny County police Superintendent Coleman McDonough were among nine panelists who addressed approximately 20 Democratic lawmakers during the joint Senate and House Democratic policy committee meeting.
The hearing, which lasted over two hours, addressed the need for more robust training, education and diversity across police departments. They also debated whether the state attorney general should be required to investigate all officer-involved shootings, and brainstormed how to prevent officers fired for misconduct from getting hired at other law enforcement agencies.
“At the end of the day, I don’t believe anyone should get shot in the back three times,” Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Lincoln-Lemington said, referring to the killing of Antwon Rose II, 17, who was shot three times while away running from a police officer in East Pittsburgh on June 19th.
Michael Rosfeld, the officer who shot Rose in the back the same day he’d been sworn in on the force, had reportedly been fired from several police departments before.
During the hearing Wilkinsburg police Chief Ophelia Coleman received the loudest show of support after she emphasized the importance of identifying and firing misbehaving officers.
“When you have an officer who everyone is talking about, you need to look at that officer and get rid of him instead of keeping him and protecting him and calling it the thin blue line, because that’s a joke,” she said.
Coleman also suggested legislators create a new board or agency tasked solely with tracking officer misconduct and reviewing each department’s training.
The family of the slain teen say they are “cautiously optimistic” after Rosfeld was arrested and charged with criminal homicide in the fatal shooting death.
“The family is holding out for a conviction and proper sentencing,” said Lee Merritt, one of the Rose family attorneys.