Two men arrested by Michael Rosfeld outside a Pittsburgh bar in December allege in a lawsuit that Rosfeld fabricated evidence, and an attorney for the two men said their case followed a pattern by the police officer facing homicide charges in an unrelated case.
Timothy Riley and Jacob Schilling were arrested by Rosfeld, then a University of Pittsburgh police officer, outside Oakland’s Garage Door Saloon after the men and two other friends were asked to leave the bar. The men said they did nothing to warrant the charges, which included simple assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct, and noted that the charges were dropped weeks later at a preliminary hearing.
“Unfortunately, we’ve also been contacted by (more than a half-dozen) other citizens who’ve had similar situations with Officer Rosfeld, in particular where charges have in fact been dropped,” said attorney Rob Peirce III, who is representing Riley and Schilling.
Peirce said his firm is looking into those claims and anticipates “representing more in the near future.”
Mike Manko, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, said the charges were dropped at a Dec. 21 preliminary hearing “because we felt we could not sustain our burden of proof based on the evidence available.”
“You have to understand that the police do not normally drop criminal charges unless they’re unfounded in nature,” Peirce said.
Rosfeld wrote in the criminal complaint that security footage supported the charges he filed against the men, but Peirce said the footage supported Schilling’s and Riley’s version of events, showing that neither man fought or attacked anyone. Peirce said an assistant district attorney assigned to the case reviewed the footage.
Here’s the version of events as laid out in the lawsuit filed today in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas pic.twitter.com/vxHFhTUSzw
— Megan Guza (@meganguzaTrib) 2 July 2018
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, alleges the men had one or two drinks when “they were immediately assaulted by the owner of the bar.”
“As they were trying to leave the bar, they were forcibly thrown out,” Peirce said in a news conference at his Downtown office.
Peirce said Riley was kneed in the groin and Schilling was thrown to the ground. Riley sought out a local police officer, Peirce said. When he returned, Rosfeld was already on the scene.
“Officer Rosfeld immediately told my clients that they were under arrest and that they were going to jail,” Peirce said.
Both Schilling and Riley declined to comment following the news conference.
Rosfeld left the university police in January. Peirce said Rosfeld’s departure was a direct result of an investigation into the Garage Door case. Pitt has not explained why Rosfeld left the department, for which he started working in October 2012.
Rosfeld, 30, of Penn Hills was sworn in as an East Pittsburgh police officer less than two hours before he shot Antwon Rose three times as the 17-year-old ran from a traffic stop June 19. Rose was unarmed. Rosfeld was charged Wednesday with criminal homicide.
Other defendants named in Monday’s lawsuit include Southside Sin City, the company that operates the bar; the Garage Door Saloon; bar owner Mark Welshonse; Pitt police Chief James Loftus; and the university.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial on charges of battery, civil rights violations, excessive force, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, false arrest and false imprisonment. Peirce said he will seek punitive damages and money to cover related costs and attorneys’ fees.