In 2018, The Root reported on a recurring theme that we just can’t seem to escape: the fatal shooting of yet another unarmed Black person at the hands of police, but what made this particular instance so disturbing was that the victim, Antwon Rose Jr., was only 17 years old.
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.
The 23-year-old bystander who recorded the incident, in which Officer Michael Rosfeld shot Rose three times in the back, described it as Rosfeld “was taking target practice out on this young man’s back.”
“He didn’t flinch. He didn’t say, ‘Stop running,’” she explained. “He didn’t say anything.”
And now, two years later, the Pittsburgh Steelers have chosen to wear Rose’s name on their helmet’s this season as part of the NFL’s efforts to pay tribute to victims of police brutality.
In describing what she felt when she learned of the Steelers’ plans, Rose’s mother, Michelle Kenney, told Steelers.com the feeling was “indescribable.”
“I can’t explain it,” she said. “It’s my son. And not only is one person on the team going to wear his name on their helmet. They took a vote, and the entire team is going to wear his name on their helmets. How do you even make sense of that? I wish I could give you some adjective to explain, but I can’t do anything but cry. I can’t do anything but cry.
“Being on the phone and hearing that the sports team right here in my city wants to represent my son and tell his story, there are no words for that.”
As to why the team chose Rose, they were collectively haunted by not only what transpired, but the possibility of something similar occurring to their own families.
“When you think about Antwon Rose’s story, we don’t want to ever let his legacy go away,” defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said. “That kid had a bright future and he was taken away too early. We see all of these things happening across our country now. This hit home.”
In 2019, Rosfeld was found not guilty of Rose’s murder.