Posted on June 22, 2018

Hundreds of Demonstrators Protest Police Shooting of 17-Year-Old Boy Fleeing a Traffic Stop

Valerie Edwards, Daily Mail, June 22, 2018

For the second night, hundreds of people in Pennsylvania have taken to the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old boy.

Nearly 1,100 protesters demonstrated outside the Allegheny County courthouse Thursday with speaker decrying police use of force and gun violence as others held signs that read: ‘Justice for Antwon.’

Antwon Rose Jr was shot dead by East Pittsburgh officer, Michael Rosfeld, on Tuesday just seconds after he fled from a traffic stop in a confrontation partly captured on video.

For the second night, hundreds of people in Pennsylvania have taken to the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old boy

Protesters demonstrated outside the East Pittsburgh police headquarters Thursday night holding signs that read: ‘Justice for Antwon’

Protesters marched through the streets Thursday night and eventually shut down a Interstate 376.

Photos showed several demonstrators sitting in the middle of the highway, while others were seen lying down and blocking traffic in both directions.

Others chanted: ‘What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.’

More than a dozen protesters were seen with their hands in the air as police tried to get them to leave the highway.

‘We are tired too! Stop killing our babies,’ one protester’s sign read. Another held a sign that said: ‘A badge is not a license to kill.’

One demonstrator’s sign called for the end of police violence.

Thursday’s protests came just a day after about 100 demonstrators held a protest on Wednesday night at the East Pittsburgh police headquarters that lasted for several hours before they took to the streets, blocking off a major intersection on Electric Avenue in rush hour.

Some of the protesters even laid down in front of a police cruiser.

Video shows a large crowd chanting Antwon’s name, while some yelled: ‘no justice, no peace’, and ‘turn up don’t turn down we do this for Antwon’.

When it began to rain, many stayed out, pulling out umbrellas and gathering under a bridge.

Dozens more sat down in the middle of the street in the pouring rain to continue the protest.

The shooting also sparked some social media outrage and calls for punishment of the officer, including from rapper Nas and a handful of other celebrities.

Rosfeld told WTAE that he hasn’t seen a video of the shooting posted to Facebook and can’t talk about the encounter.

The officer told the station that he was the cop involved in the shooting but couldn’t talk about the shooting because of an ongoing investigation.

Rosfeld said he has support from local law enforcement and from his family.

He also said he’s stayed away from watching news reports and was not aware of the bystander video posted to social media.

Civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, who is representing Antwon’s family, said he does not see justification for the use of deadly force by the rookie cop against the teen.

Merritt said the teen was unarmed and did not pose an immediate threat.

Antwon was hit three times in the back after a car he was a passenger in was pulled over in connection with a drive-by shooting that occurred little more than a mile away a few minutes earlier.

When the car was stopped, officers ordered the driver out of the vehicle and handcuffed him.

Shocking video shared on Facebook shows two people, one of them being Antwon, flee the vehicle and an officer firing three shots in quick succession at the boys moments later.

At the time the shots are fired, both men have their backs to police, so it is believed the 17-year-old was shot from behind, though Allegheny County Superintendent Coleman McDonough declined to comment on where the bullets entered his body.

McDonough told reporters on Wednesday Antwon was unarmed when he fled.

He also said that he is confident the car Antwon was in was involved in the earlier shooting, partly because a window had been shot.

McDonough said officers found two guns in the car, and that the 20-year-old driver, who was handcuffed before Antwon and another tried to flee, was released after questioning without being charged.

He also confirmed that no shots were fired at the officers.

Pennsylvania law allows officers to use deadly force against a fleeing suspect in only a handful of circumstances.

It’s permitted if the suspect poses a threat of immediate danger, has used or threatened lethal violence previously or possesses a lethal weapon.

Rosfeld was sworn in less than three hours before the shooting but had been with the department for two weeks and had eight years of law enforcement experience.

He previously worked for the Oakmont, Harmer and University of Pittsburgh police departments, before coming to East Pittsburgh.

According to a statement from the local police department, Antwon was pronounced dead at 9.19pm after he was taken to McKeesport Hospital — about 40 minutes after the traffic stop began.

The car in which Antwon was a passenger — a blue Chevy Cruze punctured with bullet holes — was pulled over after it matched the description of the vehicle linked to a drive-by shooting that took place in North Braddock a short time earlier.

In that incident, a 22-year-old man was shot in the abdomen, but returned fire and survived.

Video from the scene of the East Pittsburgh shooting showed a young man being put into an ambulance as paramedics appeared to perform chest compressions.

Rose was a promising student and beloved by his community, a statement from a lawyer on behalf of his family says

Merritt said by all accounts, Antwon was beloved in his community, and a good student.

‘From all accounts, he was a generous, hard working and highly promising student. Affirmations of his generosity of spirit and genuine goodheartedness [sic] have begun pouring in from all corners of the East Pittsburgh community where he lived.

‘We must emphasize that rumors of him being involved in a separate shooting are unsubstantiated. We know he was not armed at the time he was shot down, that he posed no immediate threat to anyone, and that, significantly, the driver of the vehicle he occupied was released from police custody.

Antwon’s friends, family and teachers said he was a promising student, who volunteered at a charity, was generous and had a ‘million-dollar smile’

Rosfeld has been placed on paid administrative leave and has not been interviewed by police. The officer was not wearing a bodycam at the time.

Leaders of the Pittsburgh-based Black Political Empowerment Project asked Thursday for the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office to investigate this and other police-involved shootings, citing only two instances where the Allegheny County district attorney has filed homicide charges against police officers in fatal shootings in the last 20 years.

A joint statement from East Pittsburgh officials and police issued Thursday expressed condolences and sadness over Antwon’s death and asked the community to respect the investigative process.

Democratic US Sen Bob Casey also issued a statement saying the teen’s family has a right to answers.

‘I am disturbed by what I saw on the video, and I have numerous questions about exactly what happened and why,’ he said.

Following the shooting, the street was quickly flooded with police, trying to establish what had happened.

Locals took to social media to broadcast the reaction as dozens in the town of about 2,000 flocked to the corner to see what had happened.

In many videos, a woman could be heard crying, and others were heard discussing the shooting and sharing their devastation.

While some shared their sadness, others shared their anger. One woman suggested the officer was playing ‘target practice’ when he shot at the boys, and told her followers: ‘If you’re not pissed off then you’re on the other side… with them.’

Antwon’s funeral will be held on Monday.

A GoFundMe has been launched to help the family with funeral arrangements, and has raised more than $1,000 in just two hours.

A lawyer for Antwon’s family said Thursday the boy did not pose an immediate threat to anyone.