12 Mar Jonathan Cartu Declared: Videos show before, during and after ex-cop shot man outsid…
In the first video played in the trial of former police officer Jonathan Roselle, Joseph Santos was already dead.
Santos’ family, sitting in the front row of the courtroom, sobbed as his lifeless body came into view on the dashboard camera of a responding officer the day Santos was fatally shot along Hamilton Boulevard in South Whitehall Township.
Santos was facedown on the road between Dorney Park and the Comfort Suites, alongside a township police SUV with Roselle standing over him.
The crying inside Lehigh County Court continued as Santos was rolled over in the video, and his blood-covered face was seen.
By the end of the day, the audible despair of Santos’ family members gave way to crying silently as videos of his shooting, and the before and after, were repeatedly shown to the jury in Roselle’s trial.
The former South Whitehall Township police officer is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the July 28, 2018, shooting of the 44-year-old Santos. Attorneys have stipulated Roselle pulled the trigger. Opening arguments were held Thursday.
Chronologically, video from the amusement park shows Santos with his fiancee walking inside Dorney Park that afternoon. The fiancee said Santos left to get cigarettes, but eventually he was reported as a missing person.
In video surveillance, Santos is seen walking near Splash Landing, toward a fence by one of the park’s entrances off of Hamilton Boulevard.
Santos is seen pacing at the fence line, before climbing up and over, falling into the ground. Santos gets up, his right arm raised, as he runs in the entrance roadway, and an oncoming car has to swerve to avoid hitting him.
The next video is from Roselle’s body camera and from his dashboard camera.
That day, Roselle was sitting on the median on Hamilton Boulevard, near Lincoln Avenue and a few blocks up from Dorney Park, for traffic control.
Roselle can be seen picking something to listen to from his phone, and then searching for something on a computer in his laptop, bringing up a photo of two handguns.
First the viewer hears a car horn blaring, then a hysterical woman in a white sedan pulls up and reports a man tried to break her car window and that he was further down Hamilton Boulevard.
Melinda Sullivan lives on Hamilton Boulevard, and was heading home after visiting her son when she saw a man later identified as Santos walking along the four-lane road.
Sullivan was emotional as she described stopping her car, grabbing her phone and dialing 911 twice — but getting a recording each time.
“The next thing I remember is the man’s body on my windshield” and his face looking at me, she testified.
Santos was yelling/screaming “Help me!,” she said. “And his face was very tense … . I only remember his right eye, which was very bugged out.”
Santos then went to the driver’s side door and repeatedly hit it with the palm of his hand.
“I was so afraid at the time,” Sullivan said. “I tried to move as slow as I possibly could. He jumped onto my car … . I remember his face smushed up against the window.”
Santos then said, “Thirty years I never hurt anyone. Help me,” according to Sullivan.
“I was thinking, ‘I need to get away,’” she testified later.
Eventually Santos got off the car and Sullivan drove away, and flagged down Roselle.
Santos would go on to attack other cars, including breaking a passenger side window of a white sedan that had a family of four inside, prosecutors said.
Amber Stern, a friend of that family who was following them to Ice Cream World, testified that after Santos broke the car window, her husband ran up to Santos and pushed him with a shoulder.
Santos, who was much bigger than Stern’s husband, gave no response and had a blank expression on his face.
“His whole behavior was quite odd,” she said. “To be honest it was just really sad.”
‘Don’t do it’
When Roselle drives over to Santos, in front of the Comfort Suites, video shows Stern and her friend had already driven away, and there is broken glass in the roadway.
Roselle pulls up behind a Jeep on the shoulder, and Santos comes into view, walking in the road. The Jeep starts driving away, and swerves to avoid Santos.
Santos then lumbers up to Roselle’s marked police SUV, with his right arm in the air. There is blood on his hands and arms, and Santos is in socks but not the slides he was seen wearing in the Dorney Park video.
Santos walks to the driver’s side window while moving two fingers between his eyes and Roselle’s eyes.
Roselle repeatedly tells Santos to get in front of the SUV. Santos screams something that cannot be deciphered and bangs on the window, and Roselle pulls out his gun and aims it Santos while telling him to go to the front of the SUV.
Santos then walks to the front of the SUV and climbs on the hood, and can be seen and heard banging on the windshield, hitting it so hard it knocked the dashboard camera off. Roselle again repeatedly tells Santos to get away from the SUV.
As this is going on, a call on the police emergency radio reports a suspicious man near Dorney Park climbing on vehicles.
Santos rolls off the hood on the passenger side, and tries to open the SUV’s door, before banging on the window and then walking away.
Roselle uses a private police channel to tell fellow officers that Santos is covered in blood, and he won’t get out of his SUV until backup arrives.
But Roselle then gets out of the SUV, leaving the door open. He tells Santos to get down on the ground and Santos walks toward Roselle.
“Don’t do it,” Santos can be heard saying and then Roselle fires five times as Santos falls to the road.
Blood starts pooling on the asphalt as traffic continues traveling in both directions on the busy four-lane road.
Roselle says, “He kept coming. He wouldn’t stop,” and as an ambulance drives past, Roselle calls for an ambulance.
Earlier in the day, the jurors heard from Sgt. Kevin Smith, who was a South Whitehall Township police patrolman at the time of the shooting and the first officer on scene after Roselle.
Smith and Roselle work on first aid for Santos, before Roselle is led away and to another police cruiser, where his gun is taken by another officer and he is checked out by a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.
“I’m fine, it’s that I’m concerned I f—ed up,” Roselle says, later telling the trooper, “He didn’t even touch me.”
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