Limited seating at Rosfeld trial creating concerns


Limited seating at Rosfeld trial creating concerns


Multiple people who showed up at the Allegheny County Courthouse for the first day of the trial of Officer Michael Rosfeld said they were not able to sit in the courtroom. 

“After family it was media to go in and then after media went in they came out and said there’s only three public seats left. So there were three family members who didn’t get seats so they went in front of us and we went to the overflow room,” said Christian Carter.

Carter is a community activist who was on the front lines of protests following the shooting death of Antwon Rose II in June 2018. 

“As like concerned people of Pittsburgh we should be able to watch this case and sit in this room and hear everything. When we were pushed to the overflow room we couldn’t hear anything. The video camera didn’t show us everything that was happening in the room,” Carter said. 

An overflow room was made available but Carter and several others said the audio feed in that room cut out for long periods of time. The trial was broadcast in that room onto a small monitor. 

“To have three public seats where we can’t even witness and see justice taking place, to me that’s absolutely ridiculous,” said local rapper and activist, Jasiri X. 

“It’s really a miscarriage of justice from the beginning that we in the public can’t even see the process take place for ourselves. I would like Zappala to open it up to a larger court, the judge to open it up to a larger court. We want to see the process for ourselves.”

According to the spokesman for District Attorney Stephen Zappala, courtroom issues are in the hands of the court administrator. 

Stacey Witalec, a spokesperson for the courtroom administration confirmed there were technical difficulties with the audio but said steps were taken to correct the problem. She was not aware of the specific technical issue but said it was checked, tested and repaired. When asked if the systems were tested during the months leading up to the trial, she said they were tested multiple times, but suffered a glitch Tuesday in spite of that preparation. 

“There are more than 100 seats in the overflow courtroom. The room was not full … We welcome member of the public to have fair and accessible access to justice,” said Witalec. 

Tim Stevens, president of the Black Political Empowerment Project, wrote a letter to President Judge Kim Clark Tuesday expressing his frustration with the lack of seating, inability to hear the proceedings from the overthrow room, and requested that the trial be moved to the overthrow room where Stevens said there is actually more seating than in the current room where the trial is being held. 

Originally published here: