MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Officer Admitted He 'Fucked Up' After Fatally Shooting an Unarmed Man

Jonathan Roselle had only been on the police force for about six months before the fatal shooting.

South Whitehall Township Police Department/FacebookSouth Whitehall Township Police Department/FacebookNot long after fatally shooting an unarmed man, a Pennsylvania police officer reportedly admitted to a fellow cop at the scene that he "fucked up."

South Whitehall Township Police Officer Jonathan Roselle was charged with involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the July 28 shooting. The 33-year-old U.S. Army veteran had only been a cop for about six months when the shooting occurred.

Prior to the shooting, Roselle was monitoring traffic when a "hysterical and frantic" woman pulled up alongside his police car, according to Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin. The woman told Roselle that a man had attempted to break into her car. ABC News recounts what happened next:

Roselle then encountered a bleeding man walking on the street, and the man banged on his car and jumped on the hood, Martin said. After that, Roselle reported the incident over radio—saying that the man may have mental issues—and issued several commands for the man to get off the vehicle and step away.

Martin says the man—44-year-old Joseph Santos—started walking away but then turned around, refusing Roselle's orders to get on the ground. According to Martin, Santos said, "Don't do it," before Roselle shot at him five times.

Santos was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Roselle, meanwhile, told at least one fellow officer at the scene that he "fucked up" and "didn't know what to do," Martin says.

According to the district attorney, there's no reason to believe race played a factor. But he believes the shooting was still unjustified. "This was the act of a relatively inexperienced officer, who held a subjective fear for his own safety, but made a decision which objectively was unreasonable in light of the facts as they existed and appeared at the time he discharged his weapon and killed Mr. Santos," Martin says.

"[Santos] was not running or rushing," Martin adds in a statement. "He did not have anything visible in his hands; he was not clenching his fists; he did not present a threatening posture."

Roselle's attorney, on the other hand, says the "deadly force" his client used was "justified and appropriate."

Roselle was released on bail and has been placed on paid leave by the South Whitehall Township Police Department. As I noted yesterday, that's not a particularly surprising short-term fate, given that getting paid not to work is a pretty common "consequence" for officers involved in controversial shootings.

What is surprising is that Roselle was charged so quickly. In fact, just 90 police officers involved in fatal shootings have faced criminal charges since 2005, according to Bowling Green State University professor Phil Stinson (there have been 613 officer-involved fatal shootings so far in 2018 alone). Of those 90, just 32 have actually been convicted. Roughly half of those convictions resulted from guilty pleas.

Photo Credit: South Whitehall Township Police Department/Facebook

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Roselle, meanwhile, told at least one fellow officer at the scene that he "fucked up" and "didn't know what to do," Martin says.

    That doesn't speak well of the quality of training at South Whitehall Township Police Department.

  • Don't look at me.||

    "Fucked up" = forgot to bring a throw down gun.

  • Necron 99||

    Yep, first officer on the scene is supposed to gather up the offending cop, put him in a cruiser, and tell him to not say a word for at least two weeks, and then only through a union lawyer.

    This was indeed a major fuckup, I blame lack of training.

  • ||

    there have been 613 officer-involved fatal shootings so far in 2018 alone

    "Just this past year, Saudi Arabia was criticized for killing 48 people over the span of four months. About half of those executed by the Saudi government were convicted of nonviolent drug charges."

    So the total score is like 613 to 48 but the *real* question is, how many were crucified?

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    U.S.: approximately 325M people. Ratio: approximately 1 in 500K.
    S.A.: approximately 32M people. Ratio: approximately 1 in 670K.
    Of course, we're comparing different things: police shootings (no trial) versus executions (trial and conviction). Which makes the U.S. look even worse.

  • Zeb||

    And we don't know how many people the police shoot in SA.

  • Curt2004||

    Actually the mock trial and conviction just implicates more people in the unjustified murders...

  • Jerryskids||

    The 33-year-old U.S. Army veteran had only been a cop for about six months when the shooting occurred.

    Kinda puts a dent in the theory that the military is better trained and disciplined than the LEO's when it comes to use of force.

    My theory that anybody wanting to be a cop has a higher probability than average of being the sort of person you'd least like to see with a gun and a badge and a bad attitude, still undented.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Kinda puts a dent in the theory that the military is better trained and disciplined than the LEO's when it comes to use of force."

    It it's not about military service in general and may not have anything to do with training and discipline.

    According to the studies I've seen combat veterans* who become cops are slower to resort to force and slower to escalate the amount of force used than other cops.

    *To qualify as a combat veteran, you have to have been involved in actual combat against an actual enemy force in a theater of war.

  • Curt2004||

    Just being in the military doesn't necessarily mean actual combat experience. The army has more than it's share of bureaucrats and paper-pushers.

  • Vernon Depner||

    And cooks, nurses, heavy equipment operators, IT guys, plumbers, lawyers, whatever.

  • creech||

    How about unpaid leave, with pay put in trust and paid out only if officer is exonerated? If the FOP wants to give the copy some spending money, then that's their perogative.

  • creech||

    How about unpaid leave, with pay put in trust and paid out only if officer is exonerated? If the FOP wants to give the copy some spending money, then that's their perogative.

  • Jerryskids||

    And I gotta be honest here, first thing I thought when I saw that picture was, I know that person's transgendered, but hell if I can tell which direction they're going. I guess that makes me a bad person and I should be ashamed of myself.

  • ||

    I believe the term you're looking for is 'queer' or 'intersex' but I refuse to definitively distinguish any further. I should probably also be ashamed of myself.

  • Agammamon||

    C'mon, don't make fun of Steve Buscemi's cousin like that.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    What a weird thing to say.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's Pat!

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    You can't jump on a police car, act crazy, and ignore a cop's commands without getting shot? Smh

  • Oli||

    Did he attack them? Did he attack anyone else? No? Then they have no fucking business shooting and killing him.

  • Juice||

    What part of "you can't ignore a cop's commands without getting shot" do you not understand? Does he have to say it again or is he going to have to shoot you?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Not long after fatally shooting an unarmed man, a Pennsylvania police officer reportedly admitted to a fellow cop at the scene that he "fucked up."

    He will soon learn that his biggest fuck up was admitting he fucked up before talking to his union rep.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    the scene that he "fucked up" and "didn't know what to do," Martin says.

    It's unfortunate that pulling the trigger is the default action when you "don't know what to do."

  • Juice||

    It's also the default action when your "tired of this shit" and just want to get on with your day.

  • Vernon Depner||

    The correct action when you're "tired of this shit" is to turn in your badge and find another job.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    So what. Last week cops in Aurora (Denver) shot a grandfather in his home after he killed a naked intruder who kicked in the door and was choking his grandson in the bathtub.

    Jealous cops?

  • ThomasD||

    No apparent justification and he demonstrated remorse.

    He's human, he did indeed fuck up, and someone died as a direct result.

    I'd say he's guilty, but of exactly what depends on relevant statutes. Somewhere in the manslaughter to murder range to be sure.

  • DenverJ||

    Yeah that's my read. I think manslaughter is the right charge. And I feel bad for the cop, believe it not. But he'll get a super sweet plea deal and probably not even go to prison, because he's a cop.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Officer Admitted He 'Fucked Up' After Fatally Shooting an Unarmed Man
    Jonathan Roselle had only been on the police force for about six months before the fatal shooting.

    Guess he hadn't been on the force long enough to have learned to never admit fault, and always bring along a drop gun.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    Guess he hadn't been on the force long enough to have learned to never admit fault

    Right, and I'm oddly inclined to feel for this guy, unlike most similar situations. Because unlike most similar situations, he seems to be part of the human race and have a conscience.

  • shortviking||

    I don't know. 99% of the murders by cops are by psychopaths, but I can't say this is one of them when a schitzophrenic piece of shit jumps on his car.

  • canonservice||

    The Problem that we can face is poor quality of prints produced by the Canon Printers. Whenever there are errors in color mixing, the quality of prints produced on the paper will eventually be poor as well. With that idea at hand, it is important to be aware of how you can go about when trying to mix colors and place them in order within the reservoir section. Canon Printer Support Number is always a reliable source of help on canon issues you may experience.

    http://www.hpprinterservicenum.....pport.html

  • Liberty Lover||

    Hey, he admitted he "fucked up". Let's all just move along, no harm done here, unless you are the dead guy. (sarc)

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online