15-year-old Steven Rosenthal died of a gunshot wound in the stairwell of his grandmother’s house in Chicago. Police say he shot himself in the head. His family says the police are the ones who killed him.
Protesters took to the streets on Sunday claiming that Steven was murdered by the Chicago Police Department. But that contradicts what the police and medical examiners say – that Steven shot himself after being chased.
So here’s the official story from police. They say they spotted a “young man with a possible weapon” in North Lawndale. “Officers attempted to question him when he led them on a brief foot pursuit. Shortly afterwards, he tragically used the weapon on himself.”
They also say there is body cam footage from the incident, but they can’t release it until the investigation is complete. The medical examiner, who operates independent of the police, also ruled Steven’s death a suicide.
But there are some key reasons all of this has left a bad taste in the mouths of Rosenthal’s friends and family. The family’s attorney, Andrew Stroth, says they have witnesses who say Steven was shot by police in the back of the head.
They say Steven was just walking into his house to get water when police pursued and shot him. They say Steven was a good student, who nobody had ever seen carrying a gun. A teenager who knew him said “He wasn’t a gang banger, he was just a hooper.”
Additionally, the medical examiner has not yet released Steven’s body. And his family believes it would show that he couldn’t have shot himself. Add that to the thorny history between Chicago PD and the black community, and you’ve got a recipe for distrust.
Steven’s mother died in March of this year and his basketball coach had tried reaching out to him to get him back in the gym. But Steven’s aunt and uncle, his legal guardians, maintain that this would not have driven him to suicide, and they’re demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel force the police to release all the evidence they have.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for his family. So far, it has raised over $1,000.
At this point, it’s impossible to know precisely what happened, but police have a responsibility to release all the evidence they have for Steven’s family. That means bodycam footage, the full autopsy report, and interviews with eyewitnesses.
If they don’t, then the public has every right to assume something more devious is going on, especially given the history of police brutality in Chicago.
What do you guys think really happened to Steven Rosenthal? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.