ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A jury has reached a verdict in the case of a former Lehigh County police officer who shot and killed a man across from Dorney Park in 2018.
The jury found Jonathan Roselle not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the deadly shooting of Joseph Santos in 2018.
The former South Whitehall Township police officer gave a thumbs up as he left the Lehigh County Courthouse, exonerated of voluntary manslaughter.
"Very relieved," he said.
After a week-long trial, the jury deliberated for just under six hours. They agreed with the defense that Roselle was reasonable in his belief that Santos posed a significant threat of serious bodily harm or death.
"Any regrets on how it went down? Would you do anything different in retrospect?" WFMZ's Bo Koltow asked him.
"I'd like to not comment if you don't mind and be with my family," he said.
In July 2018, Roselle shot Santos five times after the unarmed man attacked several cars, including Roselle's cruiser, along Route 222 near Dorney Park, didn't listen to commands, even with a gun pointed at him, and wouldn't stop walking toward him, despite being told to stop.
"This jury understood the difficult job of police officers. It's not what you watch on TV, the situations are not clear," Defense Attorney Gavin Holihan said.
However, prosecutors said Roselle could have deescalated the situation and had the training to do so, telling the jury he could have tried a stun gun or physical force. Prosecutors argues you don't shoot people for walking towards you.
While the verdict is a relief for Roselle, it's sadness for the Santos family.
"He has a 10-year-old daughter and still has nightmares waiting for him to come home. He's not coming home because officer Roselle decided to play judge, jury and executioner," said family spokesperson Ashleigh Strange.
During closing arguments the prosecution told the jury that great police officers see the humanity in everyone, even those committing crimes.
No matter what side you are on in this case, those are words to live by.