The East Pittsburgh officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose in the back as he was fleeing from a traffic stop had barely been officially sworn in as an officer before the deadly encounter.
Unidentified sources told news station KDKA-TV that the officer accused in the shooting, who is also still unidentified, had only been on duty in East Pittsburgh for three weeks and had been sworn in for only about 90 minutes before the shooting.
The officer, according to those sources, had been an officer in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County since 2011 and had previously worked in Harmarville and Oakmont and for the University of Pittsburgh Police Department.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis Payne confirmed that the officer was only formally sworn in on Tuesday.
Payne described the officer as being about 30 years old with eight years of policing experience. The mayor said that the officer was treated for shock at the hospital after the shooting.
Antwon was a passenger in a car that had been pulled over because it matched the description of a vehicle that had fled a shooting that resulted in a 22-year-old man’s injury, the Allegheny County Police Department detailed in a Facebook post. Officers stopped the vehicle and took the driver into custody. However, as the driver was being handcuffed, two of the passengers fled. That was when Antwon was shot.
A video of the shooting that was posted on Facebook shows two individuals running away as three shots are fired.
“Why are they shooting?” the woman recording the video could be heard saying. “All they did was run, and they’re shooting at them!”
The department noted that two firearms were found on the floor of the vehicle, but acknowledged that the teen was not found with a weapon on him.
According to the New York Times, S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing Antwon’s family, said in a statement Wednesday:
We know very little about the circumstances surrounding his death at this early stage. We must emphasize that rumors of him being involved in a separate shooting are unsubstantiated. We know that he was not armed at the time he was shot down, that he posed no immediate threat to anyone, and that, significantly, the driver of the vehicle he occupied was released from police custody.
The teen, who was a student at Woodland Hills High School, was remembered by classmates and school personnel as smart and funny.
“He was an excellent student,” Al Johnson, the school’s superintendent, told the Times. Antwon, who was on track to graduate at the end of the year, was taking an Advanced Placement class, Johnson noted.
With Antwon’s death, Johnson added, “We’ve lost four students to gun violence [this school year].”
The teen also worked as an instructor at the Pittsburgh Gymnastics Club for about a year. Owner Kim Ransom recalled how Antwon overdressed for the interview in 2015.
“He brought his typed-up résumé and he was wearing a full three-piece suit with his shiny shoes and he was sweating profusely,” she said.
“I just thought it was very cute. I think he was 14 at the time,” Ransom added. “Someone in his life must have been guiding him in the right direction.”
Antwon secured the job and coached kids in an after-school program and other classes.
“I feel like it’s important for people to know that he was Antwon,” she said. “He’s not a statistic; he’s Antwon.”