Rookie South Whitehall police officer loses job
South Whitehall Township Police Officer Jonathan R. Roselle, 33, who was charged last month with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., man has lost his job.
Township Manager Renee Bickel in a telephone call with The Press on Sept. 10 said Roselle’s employment was discontinued on Sept. 6 during his probationary period.
She said Roselle’s annual salary was $62,920.
Roselle, who graduated Dec. 17, 2017, from Allentown Police Academy and went through 13 weeks of field training in accordance with South Whitehall Township Police Department protocols, had been on patrol by himself for less than five months at the time of the July 28 fatal shooting of Joseph Santos, 44, in front of the Comfort Suites, 3712 Hamilton Blvd., South Whitehall.
Roselle is being represented by Attorneys Emanuel Kapelsohn, an expert in firearms use of force, with an office in South Whitehall, and Gavin Holihan of Allentown.
The Press contacted Holihan for comment on Roselle’s termination via telephone Sept. 10.
Holihan offered a “no comment” through his secretary who answered the telephone.
According to Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin at last month’s news conference, Roselle was operating a marked police vehicle around 5:44 p.m. on the evening of the shooting when he encountered Santos who was seen on eyewitness video pounding on the driver’s side of the police vehicle; climbing on the hood of the vehicle; and pounding on the windshield so hard the dashboard camera was dislodged from Roselle’s police vehicle.
Santos then walked away from the police vehicle, reversed his course and came toward Roselle, Martin said.
“He was not running or rushing toward the officer. He did not have anything visible in his hands. He was not clenching his fists. He did not present a threatening posture,” Martin said. “He was plainly not armed with any type of weapon and he is heard on video saying to Officer Roselle who had his weapon unholstered and pointing at him, ‘Don’t do it.’”
Martin said, as there is no evidence Santos was armed with any weapon and no evidence he had committed or attempted a forcible felony, he approved the charge of voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder of the third degree, because murder requires malice.
According to Lehigh County court records, Roselle’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20.