Hundreds of demonstrators shut down Interstate 376 outside Pittsburgh until early Friday to protest the fatal shooting by police of a 17-year-old unarmed black teen who was running from a traffic stop.
Traffic on the highway was backed up for hours by the demonstrators, some carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs and shouting “No Justice, No Peace.”
The crowd was protesting the fatal shooting Tuesday night in East Pittsburgh of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. that was partially caught on video.
Nearly 1,000 people turned out earlier at the Allegheny County courthouse to decry the shooting, the use of force by police and gun violence.
Rose had been riding in a vehicle stopped by police who were investigating a recent shooting in the area. East Pittsburgh is located about 10 miles east of Pittsburgh.
S. Lee Merritt, a civil rights lawyer representing the Rose family, said rumors the teen had been involved in a separate shooting were “unsubstantiated.”
“We know that he was not armed at the time he was shot down, that he posed no immediate threat to anyone,” Merritt said.
Officer Michael Rosfeld confirmed to a WTAE-TV reporter who went to his house Thursday that he was the officer who fired the shots but said he had not watched the news and was unaware the video even existed. Rosfeld said he could not talk about the shooting because of the open investigation.
Investigators and city officials have declined to name the officer, who has been placed on administrative leave.
The officer was new to the East Pittsburgh force and had only been sworn in about three hours before the incident, but had been on duty for about three weeks. He has worked as a police officer for seven years at three other police departments.
Allegheny County Police Commissioner Coleman McDonough said Wednesday that he is confident the car Antwon was in was involved in the earlier shooting, partly because a window had been shot out. He said officers found two guns in the car, and that the driver was released after questioning without being charged.
McDonough confirmed that Antwon was not armed and 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.