Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the East Pittsburgh Police station Wednesday evening to demand justice for Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old black teenager who was shot and killed by a Pittsburgh police officer Tuesday night. Rose was unarmed and fleeing cops during a traffic stop when he was shot in the back three times.
Cell phone video of the incident captured by a witness sparked anger across the city Tuesday night. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Allegheny County police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said police found two guns on the floor of the car in which Rose was riding, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The driver of the car was being taken into custody when Rose and a second unidentified individual fled from the scene.
Police pulled the vehicle over because they suspected that the occupants were involved in a gunfire exchange in the North Braddock neighborhood a few minutes earlier. It is unclear why the officer shot at Rose, who did not appear to pose any immediate danger to the police officers as he ran away.
McDonough did not share the name of the officer who shot and killed Rose and urged “people to give us time to conduct an objective investigation, to gather facts.”
But the protesters who gathered outside the station later that evening were outraged.
“Enough is enough!” one activist shouted, according to Facebook video posted by the Post-Gazette, demanding the resignation of Pittsburgh district attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., who has been accused of criminalizing black children and failing to address the staff-on-student violence that has plagued the Woodland Hills School District, where Rose was a student, for several years. A second protest outside Zappala’s office is expected to take place Thursday afternoon.
“Zappala got to go,” the activist continued. “He’s been in office 20 years. He has never tried a case … he was put in there. Nobody’s running against him … That’s the problem. It’s called the good ol’ boys club.”
“What you saw last night, what you witnessed last night on Facebook was a murder,” another protester shouted. “Don’t let the narrative change. Don’t let the press conference after change what you saw with your own eyes last night. You didn’t see a shoot-out. You didn’t see an exchange of bullets. You didn’t see a drive-by. You clicked on Facebook and you see a black boy get shot in his back running.”
The emotional protest lasted several hours, with activists coming face-to-face with area police officers who stood silently.
“Murderer!” the protesters shouted. “Shut it down!”
Rose was remembered as a “really lovely, gentle kid” by Gisele Fetterman, wife of Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (D) and founder of the Free Store nonprofit, where Rose volunteered every summer. “All the kids loved him. Just a fine person. Bubbly. Funny. Goofy. Just really special.”