Police officer charged after shooting man near Dorney Park

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. (WPVI) -- A police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter following a shooting last month near Dorney Park that left a man dead.

Charges against Officer Jonathan Roselle, 33, were announced on Tuesday.

Officer Jonathan Roselle

District Attorney Jim Martin said the man who was killed, 44-year-old Joseph Santos of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, was not armed at the time of the shooting.

Martin said that while Roselle may have been in some danger, deadly force was not justified.

Joseph Santos

The shooting happened at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 28 along Hamilton Boulevard in South Whitehall Township.

Martin said the incident began when a woman pulled up to Roselle, who was on traffic duty, saying a man tried to get into her car.

Roselle drove to where the man was, at which point Santos jumped on the marked police vehicle and started banging on the passenger's side. Roselle ordered him to get off and away from the vehicle.

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Arlene Figueroa, the mother of the victim's child, was very emotional during a press conference reacting to the DA's decision to charge a police officer in the fatal shooting.

Roselle called for backup, then Santos began to walk away. Martin said Santos then turned around and began to approach Roselle, who was now outside of his vehicle.

Roselle told Santos to get on the ground, Martin said, but Santos continued to approach, and Roselle fired five times. Santos was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead.

According to Martin, Roselle told first responders he "F----d up." He had a Taser, baton and pepper spray on him at the time.

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Lehigh County DA announces announces charges against the South Whitehall police officer involved in a deadly shooting near Dorney Park.

Roselle is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and is currently in the National Guard. He had graduated the police academy in 2017 and had been on patrol by himself for just five months.

Outside the courthouse, a group of family members, friends and other community members that had protested Santos' killing said they welcomed the news, but added they would continue to pressure for a conviction.

Arlene Figueroa, an ex-wife of the victim, emotionally addressed the officer directly.

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Authorities investigate deadly police-involved shooting in Lehigh County. Bob Brooks reports during Action News at noon on July 29, 2018.

"Jonathan, I pray for you and I hope you watch this. And I hope you watch this little girl's face every night," Figueroa said, holding up a sign of Santos' daughter. "Every night, look at this little girl's face, look at his son's face. Picture them every night - every night! Because when this little girl says 'Where's my daddy?' I want you in your head to answer that question."

Roselle was arraigned Tuesday afternoon. He later posted bail, which was set at $75,000.

In a statement Tuesday night, one of Officer Roselle's lawyers, Gavin Holihan said:

"While the loss of life is always unfortunate, it is not always unjustified. My client believed and continues to believe his actions were justified."

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Family reacts after officer charged in South Whitehall shooting. Watch the report from Chad Pradelli on Action News at 5 p.m. on August 7, 2018.

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