CHICAGO (CBS) — His death was ruled a suicide by the medical examiner’s office, but the family of 15-year-old Steven Rosenthal is questioning that ruling and the Chicago Police Department’s account of the shooting that occurred on August 17th. The family of the teen hired an independent investigator, as they continue to search for answers.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports the family says their experts came to a different conclusion.
“We want to find out the truth,” stated Attorney Andrew Stroth, saying Steven Rosenthal’s family and friends won’t stop pressing for answers from police and other agencies investigating the 15-year-old’s death. “There are eyewitness reports that strongly contradict the narrative given by the police.”
Attorney Andrew Stroth said, “The family hired an independent investigator and doctor to do their own analysis and that analysis did not indicate suicide. We’ll share that at the appropriate time, but we want to get the autopsy that was done by the medical examiner’s office and we want to get the rest of the evidence so we can find truth.”
According to police, officers attempted to question Rosenthal because they believed he was armed. When he ran, officers pursued him. Police say the boy then fatally shot himself in the head. After viewing body cam footage of the shooting, Rosenthal’s family is questioning that account.
“It doesn’t show the shooting. It shows Steven going up the stairs. It shows officers coming after him and then you don’t see anything until you see Steven dead on the upstairs landing,” said Stroth.
“We also hear the police harassing my nephew, as well. I can’t repeat [what I heard] on camera. Life threats, without a weapon,” stated Deshaun Thomas, Rosenthal’s uncle.
“We know that the city of Chicago is known for ‘corruption.’ We’re not blaming the Chicago Police Department at all. We are blaming those individual officers that were involved in my nephew’s death,” said Thomas. “Racism is alive, but all people are not racist. All cops aren’t bad cops, but anyone involved in my nephew’s death, we’re going to question their integrity.”
Among the family’s supporters in their quest for answers is Chicago Bulls’ Jabari Parker, a family friend. Parker says Rosenthal attended his youth basketball camp.
“This is really authentic to me and it’s more sad than I can explain because my camp is based around family and I lost a person in my family,” Parker said.
CBS 2 asked Chicago Police about the family’s claims. In a statement, a CPD spokesperson said, “Steven’s death is an absolute tragedy. Based on ballistics and camera evidence, no police officer fired any weapon during the encounter.”