Protesters demanded justice in the police shooting of Antwon Rose II on Tuesday and called for the district attorney’s ouster.
They gathered at Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh before marching downtown, carrying signs saying, “Three shots in in the back; How do you justify that?” and chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Steve Zappala has got to go,” referring to the prosecutor who has so far declined to charge East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld. Some protesters expressed concern Zappala has a questionable record when it comes to holding police accountable.
Both Zappala’s spokesman, Mike Manko, and Rose family attorney Lee Merritt said they didn’t expect any developments to be announced Tuesday.
Rosfeld shot Antwon, 17, three times last week as he fled a car suspected in an earlier shooting.
Elected officials join calls for justice
During the march and protest, police stopped traffic along the almost mile-long route that took demonstrators, a few children among them, from Freedom Corner to the Allegheny County Courthouse, which houses Zappala’s office, on to the Pittsburgh City-County Building. It began with a group of about 50 but doubled along the way.
“We’re going to be respectful, but we’re going to make our presence known,” organizer Nicky Jo Dawson said.
Once at the Pittsburgh City-County Building, speakers took to a podium to address their fellow protesters and reporters. Included were city, county and state leaders lending their voices to the calls for justice.
“If it wasn’t for your voice, justice might not be served,” said Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner. “You will continue to have our support. … We will absolutely not stand for this, and as a community we absolutely support the need to file charges.”
State Rep. Ed Gainey, who represents Pittsburgh, said that if police want the community to trust them, they must demonstrate that they’re willing to discipline one of their own.
“They need diversity education within the police department,” he said.
Though the shooting occurred in East Pittsburgh, about a 15-minute drive east of Pittsburgh, at least five members of the nine-member Pittsburgh City Council were in attendance. Councilman Daniel Lavelle called on Zappala to bring charges against Rosfeld.
’We will not rest’
Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability, urged protesters to look out for each other. Be vigilant, remain brave and beware agitators, she told the crowd.
“We’re putting our lives on the line,” Fisher said. “We’re in a different political climate. We have this Trump era of policing and it’s very aggressive.”
There were no confrontations during the march and news conference. Appointed “marshals” helped direct the demonstrators along the route.
Fisher said she and others were organizing for a major protest Saturday.
A woman identifying herself as Carmen Ashley, one of Antwon’s relatives, echoed the sentiments of Antwon’s mother, who in an interview that aired Monday, accused Rosfeld of killing her son in “cold blood.”
Ashley told protesters, “Since his life was taken for no reason, the pain (Rosfeld) has caused this family will never be healed.”
“We will not rest until there is a conviction for this man who killed my nephew,” she said. “We will not rest. I will be here everyday with y’all. I will walk. I will cry. Somebody will have to carry me, but I will be here.”
Antwon was laid to rest Monday, with mourners gathering at Woodland Hills Intermediate School in Swissvale to remember the teen described in his funeral program as “beautiful, bright, charming and generous.”
Antwon ‘bolted,’ police say
According to Allegheny County police, Antwon was a passenger in a car that authorities suspected of being involved in a shooting in nearby North Braddock on June 19.
Rosfeld pulled the car over and ordered the driver out of the car and onto the ground, police said. Antwon and another passenger “bolted” from the vehicle, and the East Pittsburgh officer opened fire, striking the teenager, police said.
The driver was questioned and released. The other passenger, a juvenile, was arrested on separate charges and is expected to be charged in the North Braddock shooting, Allegheny County Police Department spokeswoman Amie Downs said. No further information was immediately available.
Antwon had an empty magazine clip in his pocket, according to Manko, the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office. Pressed for more information, officials declined to elaborate.
The unidentified 23-year-old who captured video of the shooting appeared in silhouette during an ABC interview to describe what she saw that day.
“It was like he was taking target practice out on this young man’s back. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t say, ‘Stop running.’ He didn’t say anything,” she said.
Rosfeld had been sworn in to the East Pittsburgh police force just hours before the shooting, though he’d worked with other local departments for seven years, CNN affiliate WPXI reported.
CNN’s Athena Jones and Bonney Kapp reported from Pittsburgh. Carma Hassan reported from Atlanta and Eliott C. McLaughlin reported and wrote in Atlanta.