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SOUTH WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS/AP) — A South Whitehall Township police officer who was involved in the deadly shooting of a man last month has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced Tuesday that Officer Jonathan Roselle, 33, surrendered to authorities and has been arraigned in the fatal shooting of 44-year-old Joseph Santos, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Santos was shot and killed on July 28 near Dorney Park. Roselle had been on the force for less than five months at the time of the shooting.
“At this time I am announcing that Officer Roselle has been charged with the crime of voluntary manslaughter as the result of the shooting and killing of Mr. Santos,” said Martin.
Police say Santos was damaging cars and interfering with traffic in South Whitehall Township near Dorney Park before an officer confronted him.
Witness videos show Santos hanging onto a moving white car. Another shows him climbing on the hood of a police SUV. The vehicle drives slowly a short distance with him on the hood then pulls off the road.
Martin says that Roselle repeated verbal commands to Santos to get down on the ground. Santos did not comply and kept walking toward Roselle, and as he drew closer, the officer shot at Santos five times, Martin said.
Roselle graduated from the Allentown Police Academy last December.
“In my opinion, 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,” said Martin.
Santos was not armed at the time of his death.
Roselle faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)