Antwon Rose Jr, 17, who was shot in the back and killed by an officer in Pennsylvania, will have funeral services held at his school, where he would have been a senior this year.
Rose was shot in the back while fleeing a traffic stop in a town near Pittsburgh six days ago.
Classmates, teachers, family and neighbors of Antwon Rose Jr. described him Monday as a caring and charismatic young man who deserves to be remembered as more than just the latest hashtag given unarmed black men killed by police.
The funeral program included a poem Rose wrote just weeks before he was killed. In it, he wrote about being ‘confused and afraid’ and wondering what path his life would take.
‘I see mothers bury their sons,’ he wrote. ‘I want my mom to never feel that pain.’
Rose was an avid skater and skier who also played the saxophone. His favorite color was purple, and some mourners wore that color in his honor.
Mourners displayed signs reading ‘Justice for Antwon’ and ‘#SayHisName’ in the funeral procession.
The messages in the windows of some of the cars were the only outward sign of protest after a week of demonstrations calling for the officer who shot Rose to be charged in the shooting.
Protesters said there would be no demonstrations Monday out of respect for the family.
Rose’s shooting remains under investigation by the county district attorney. No charges have been filed.
His mother, Michelle Kenney, told ABC News in an interview over the weekend that the officer ‘murdered my son in cold blood.’
‘If he has a son, I pray his heart never has to hurt the way mine does,’ she said. ‘But I think he should pay for taking my son’s life.’
The case is among several across the country in recent years that have ignited a national debate over race and policing.
Officer Michael Rosfeld, who shot Rose, is on administrative leave. He told WTAE-TV last week he could not discuss the shooting but said he was getting a lot of support from law enforcement. His attorney did not return a call Monday seeking his comment on the family’s statements.
Rose was a passenger in a car pulled over by Rosfeld because police said it matched the description of a car wanted in a shooting in a nearby town.
As Rosfeld was taking the driver into custody, Rose and a second passenger fled.
A video taken from a nearby house shows them running from the car. Three gunshots can be heard, and the passengers can be seen either falling or crouching as they pass between houses. It is unclear from the video if Rosfeld yelled for them to stop.
Authorities said two handguns were retrieved from the car, and District Attorney Stephen Zappala said an empty gun clip was found in Rose’s pocket.
Lawyers for his family have said no evidence has been produced to show Rose posed a threat to police.
Kenney, during her appearance on Good Morning America said the East Pittsburgh officer, 30-year-old Michael Rosfeld, ‘should pay for taking my son’s life.’
Her son Antwon, who Kenney said dreamed of being a chemical engineer or lawyer, was killed by three shots after he ran from officers who stopped his car – which they suspected had been involved in a drive-by shooting.
‘He murdered my son in cold blood,’ Kenney said. ‘My son is dead and I keep saying that, but he didn’t die by accident,’ she said. ‘He didn’t fall off a cliff. He didn’t trip and bump his head. A cop killed him.
‘If (the officer) has a son, I pray his heart never has to hurt the way mine does.
‘But I think he should pay for taking my son’s life. I really do.’
Kenney, who held a Bible in her lap with a piece of paper and the words ‘My Son’ attached, was joined by her partner Antwon Rose Sr. At one point, he held Kenney as she sobbed into his arms.
Antwon Rose Sr. said he saw the video of his son being gunned down before he even realized who the victim was.
‘I never thought that was my son,’ he said.
Kenney told ABC: ‘A cop killed him. The same person that should have protected him, the same person who I taught my son to respect and always have the most respect for, never be disrespectful, murdered my son.’
She said that her son, who she called ‘My Baby’, had traveled round the world and taught himself how to ski and play hockey.
‘I knew Antwon was destined for greatness,’ she added.
Kenney said the shooting was even more tragic because she had always taught her son to have the utmost respect for the law and police.
There have been large protests over Rose Jr’s death, including outside Allegheny courthouse on Thursday.
Nearly 1,100 people turned up decrying police use of force and gun violence as others held signs that read: ‘Justice for Antwon.’
Kenney said that Rosfeld ‘should have been in jail the day after it happened’, adding: ‘If I shot somebody in cold blood, I would have been arrested on the scene.’
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.
Video shared on Facebook shows two people, one of them Antwon, fleeing 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.
SOURCE: The Associated Press; Daily Mail, Jessica Finn and Iain Burns