The funeral for Antwon Rose II, the unarmed teen shot by police last week near Pittsburgh, began Monday, hours after an interview aired in which Antwon’s mother accused police of killing her son “in cold blood.”
East Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Rosfeld shot Antwon, 17, three times last week as he fled a car stopped by police.
Since his death, protesters have marched in downtown Pittsburgh demanding accountability. Several groups shut down highways and intersections across the city during several days of protest.
“Three shots in the back. How you justify that?” protesters chanted.
The protests were put on hold to allow the family to mourn. Antwon’s friends and family members attended his funeral at Woodland Hills Intermediate School in Swissvale, where Antwon once was enrolled as a student.
Media are not allowed inside, but reporters could clearly see the parking lot was filled to capacity. A motorcade carrying some of Antwon’s family members arrived with a police vehicle from Rankin, where Antwon lived, bringing up the rear. Fifteen minutes after the service began, mourners continued to arrive and enter the school.
‘Ready to fight’
“I am in amazement that this all has something to do with my son, but I’m destroyed by the reason why. I appreciate all the protesters, but I just want them to protest peacefully,” Antwon’s mother Michelle Kenney said in an exclusive interview with ABC that aired Monday.
On Sunday, mourners gathered for Antwon’s wake.
“Today has been a particularly difficult day because the finality begins to set in, when you see your son laid out, embalmed and lifeless,” Lee Merritt, the attorney for Antwon’s family, said Sunday. “Tomorrow will be a more difficult day.”
His parents are in shock over the death of their son, but also frustrated by the media reports on his character. They’re also upset the officer who shot Antwon hasn’t been charged, Merritt said.
“They’re ready to fight,” Merritt said of Antwon’s parents. “In the coming weeks, you’re going to hear a lot more from them. They’re like the protesters. They’re not going anywhere. They have a lot to say.”
Teen’s mom: ‘He murdered my son’
Antwon was a passenger in the car, which authorities suspected of being involved in a shooting earlier in the day on June 19, Allegheny County police said.
The officer 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 unidentified 23-year-old who captured video of the shooting appeared in silhouette on ABC 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.
“He murdered my son in cold blood. If he has a son, I pray his heart never has to hurt the way mine does,” Kenney told ABC, adding that she believes Rosfeld should pay for taking her son’s life.
Rosfeld has been placed on administrative leave, police said.
During her ABC interview, Kenney declined to speak about the circumstances that preceded her son’s death, but she had a response to those who say Antwon shouldn’t have been in the car suspected in the prior shooting.
“My son is dead. For all those people that say that, their son must be at home,” she said.
Among those who protested the police shooting was Lamont Wade, a Penn State University football player who has been vocal on social media.
Citing the deaths of Eric Garner and Philando Castile, Wade said, “The worst thing that has happened to the people who are killing these innocent people, are paid leaves or getting fired. … I feel like something needs to change.”