Judge rejects suit by ex-officer acquitted in teen’s death

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a former police officer acquitted in the shooting death of a Black teenager who was seeking reinstatement to another position as a university police officer.

The judge’s opinion filed Monday said former officer Michael Rosfeld left his University of Pittsburgh position willingly and hadn’t presented sufficient evidence that he was forced to resign, the Tribune-Review reported.

Rosfeld was acquitted of homicide last year in the June 2018 shooting death of Antwon Rose II in East Pittsburgh. The 17-year-old was a passenger in a car that Rosfeld stopped following a drive-by shooting minutes earlier. Rose and another teen fled, and Rosfeld shot Rose in the back three times. He was acquitted by a Dauphin County jury.

Rosfeld previously worked as a University of Pittsburgh officer from October 2012 to January 2018. His lawsuit alleged that he was forced from that position after filing criminal charges against a school official’s son following a December 2017 incident at the Garage Door Saloon in Oakland. Several men were charged with assault after being ejected from the bar, but the charges were later withdrawn.

Rosfeld said he was placed on administrative leave the next day and later presented with a termination notice, after which he was allowed to resign instead. Rosfeld said his rights were violated because the university didn’t give him notice of charges or evidence against him or allow him to respond.

The court, however, said resignations are presumed voluntary unless there is proof that they are “forced … by coercion or duress,” and Rosfeld hadn’t provided a plausible case for that.

“No one demanded Mr. Rosfeld’s resignation, threatened him if he refused to resign, or, for that matter, even mentioned resignation to him,” U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said. “Rather, it was Mr. Rosfeld himself who ‘immediately request(ed) resignation’ after being told he faced termination.”

Ranjan noted that had Rosfeld been terminated, he would be entitled to due process through an informal hearing, but because he offered to resign that wasn’t the case.

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