ALLENTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Two protests in Allentown after a fatal shooting involving the police. One group is seeking justice for the man who died while the other rallies to support the officer at the heart of the controversial shooting.
The two rallies are expected to happen at the same time Sunday afternoon but a few miles apart from each other.
Supporters of the officer explained that he felt threatened before firing his gun.
Still, loved ones of the victim, Joseph Santos, 44, point out he was not armed.
Authorities say Whitehall police officer Jonathan Roselle shot Santos five times, killing him. Now, Roselle has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Lehigh County district attorney Jim Martin said last week Roselle may have been in some danger, but not enough that warranted firing a gun and killing a man.
“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.
An objective analysis of the facts established Officer Roselle does not need to defend himself with deadly force. And hence, was unjustified.
Sunday, at 2 p.m., those who knew and loved Santos will gather at the Resurrected Life Community Church in Allentown to pay their respects. Santos was the father of a little girl. The girl’s mother spoke last week about Santos’ death.
“We can’t ever let his name be forgotten,” said Arlene Figueroa, the mother of Santos’ young daughter said.
At the remembrance later Sunday, people will also rally, calling to end police brutality.
At the same time, a counter-rally for Officer Roselle will be held on Hamilton Boulevard near Dorney Park.
Supporters of Roselle point out Santos did not listen to repeated commands to drop to the ground and at the time, roselle felt his life was in danger because he had no idea if Santos was armed.
Organizers of the “Back the Blue” protest say it will be peaceful.
Still, the Allentown NAACP has released a statement denouncing it.