An unarmed 17-year-old boy was shot and killed by the East Pittsburgh police on Tuesday night as he tried to flee a traffic stop, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.
The teenager, Antwon Rose II, was a passenger in a car that had been pulled over because it matched the description of a vehicle that fled an earlier shooting in which a 22-year-old man was wounded, the Allegheny County Police Department said in a statement.
A video that recorded the fatal shooting and was posted on Facebook shows two people running from police vehicles as three shots are fired. One of the people, later identified as the 17-year-old, appears to fall to the ground.
“Why are they shooting?” the woman recording the video says. “All they did was run and they’re shooting at them!”
The Allegheny County Police Department, which is investigating the encounter, said that two firearms were found on the floor of the car. When asked if the teenager was found with a weapon on his person, Coleman McDonough, the department’s superintendent, said he was not.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday quoted Mayor Louis Payne of East Pittsburgh as saying that the officer who shot Antwon was hired in mid-May and had been formally sworn in hours before the shooting.
In a statement on Wednesday night, S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing Antwon’s family, said: “We know very little about the circumstances surrounding his death at this early stage. We must emphasize that rumors of him being involved in a separate shooting are unsubstantiated. We know that 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.”
On Wednesday evening, dozens of people protested outside the East Pittsburgh Police Department, chanting, “No justice, no peace!” Some carried signs that said, “Justice4Antwon” and “#BlackLivesMatter.”
Those who knew Antwon described him as bright, lively and funny. He was a senior at Woodland Hills High School who was expected to graduate at the end of the year, the superintendent, Al Johnson, said in an interview on Wednesday.
“He was an excellent student,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that Antwon was taking Advanced Placement classes.
With Antwon’s death, he said, “we’ve lost four students to gun violence” over the past school year.
Kim Ransom, the owner of Pittsburgh Gymnastics Club, where Antwon worked for about a year, recalled the sweltering day in 2015 that he interviewed to work at the club as an instructor.
“He brought his typed-up résumé and he was wearing a full three-piece suit with his shiny shoes and he was sweating profusely,” she said.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Christina Caron