Steven Rosenthal, a 15-year-old Chicago teen, died at the end of a police chase this past weekend. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) says that Rosenthal committed suicide; his family believes he died at the hands of the cops.
The encounter began on Friday evening. Some officers decided to question Rosenthal after spotting him with a weapon. Rosenthal fled, and the officers pursued on foot. He ran all the way back to his home, where he later died on the back stairwell from a gunshot wound to the head. CPD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that Rosenthal had "tragically used the weapon on himself."
The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled Rosenthal's death a suicide, based on unspecified evidence found in an autopsy. Guglielmi also said that video and ballistics evidence showed that the CPD did not fire on Rosenthal. Though there is body camera footage from the incident, ABC 7 reports that the department will not release it until it can be sure that it does not hinder the police investigation.
Rosenthal's family rejects the CPD's story, arguing that the shooting was not only out of character but did not match witness statements. They are now demanding an investigation into the cops' claims. Following the shooting, Terinica Thomas, Rosenthal's aunt, said, "I need to see evidence. My nephew would never commit suicide."
"Steven was on the stairwell of his grandmother's house on the West Side of Chicago when police officers stormed up the stairwell chasing," Andrew Stroth, a lawyer representing the family, said at a news conference. Stroth cited "several eyewitness accounts" to back up his version of events, concluding that "these officers, without cause or provocation, shot and killed 15-year-old Steven."
This is not the first time a death has been disputed between police and family. Earlier this year, for example, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department and the family of the late Jeffrey Price found themselves at odds over the official explanation for Price's May death. The cops claimed that Price died after his illegal dirt bike crashed into a police SUV. Witnesses and pictures from the scene, however, indicate that an officer—identified as Michael Pearson—caused the crash when he attempted to cut off the dirt bike with his police SUV.