Protesters gather in Pittsburgh over killing of 17-year-old Antwon Rose |

Protesters gather in Pittsburgh over killing of 17-year-old Antwon Rose

Megan Guza

Hundreds of people poured onto Grant Street outside the Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh to demand justice for a teenage boy shot and killed by police this week.

The protesters also called on District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. to “side with the people” rather than act as a “defense attorney for the police.”

The protest came two days after an East Pittsburgh police officer shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose as he ran from a vehicle stopped by police about 8:20 p.m. Tuesday. Viral video of the incident shows Rose being shot within seconds of running from the car.

“We have to show up, we have to show out, we have to show what we stand for and what we stand against,” Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability, said to the crowd. “Antwon Rose Jr. – say his name.”

The crowd chanted his name.

“This is not a game,” Fisher said. “We have to be out here until Antwon’s family sees justice.”

She called on the crowd to vote Zappala out of office.

“I cannot express enough how we need to get this evil man out of office,” she said.

Zappala’s spokesman, Mike Manko, released a statement via email while the crowd gathered outside. He said Zappala met with county police officials Thursday morning for an update on the investigation.

“Out of respect for the grieving process that the family and friends of Mr. Rose are going through and the upcoming Monday funeral for Mr. Rose, District Attorney Zappala will not have any further comment until next week,” Manko wrote.

Propel Homestead teacher Dalashay Whitehead stood outside the courthouse holding a handmade sign that read, “How can I teach my young black students that their lives do matter when you keep taking them away?”

“I wanted to be here to inspire kids,” said Whitehead, 21. “This breaks my heart.”

She said that talking with her students about police shootings involving young black men and women is difficult.

“I just try to give them hope for the future,” she said. “I tell them to take the right path – stand up for what you believe in.”

Leon Ford Jr. was 19 in 2012 when he was shot during a traffic stop in Highland Park. Officer David Derbish shot Ford after the vehicle Ford was driving allegedly lurched forward while an officer was trying to pull Ford from the car.

Derbish is white. Ford is black, and he was paralyzed from the waist down by the shooting. The incident prompted protests across the city.

“I thought that this wouldn’t happen again,” said Ford, 24, from his wheelchair outside the courthouse. “I speak all over the country, and I talk about love, compassion and understanding. But how do you have that right now?”

He said he felt guilty as he tried to console Rose’s mother Wednesday night.

“I kind of feel guilty that I survived and I can still be here with my mom and my dad and raising my son,” he said. “She doesn’t have her son anymore.”

The East Pittsburgh officer shot Rose three times Tuesday as the 17-year-old ran from a car that police had stopped. The car matched the description of a car police suspected was involved in an earlier shooting. Rose, an honor student at Woodland Hills High School, later died at the hospital.

Rose was unarmed. Police found two guns in the car. A man who fled with Rose remains at large. Police detained and later released the driver of the car.

Neither the Allegheny County Police nor East Pittsburgh officials have identified the officer, who was placed on administrative leave following the shooting. The officer was sworn in at an East Pittsburgh Borough Council meeting less than two hours before the shooting. The officer had several years of experience with other police forces in the area.

County police will investigate the killing and present it to the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will rule whether the shooting was justified and bring charges against the officer if necessary.

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