The cop who killed an unarmed teenager was sworn in only 90 minutes before
Antwon Rose was only 17 years old when he was shot dead by a police officer in East Pittsburgh earlier this week.
Last Tuesday, the world was horrified to learn of Rose's tragic demise, as the honours student at Woodland Hills High School was shot three times fleeing from a police officer. He had been travelling in a vehicle that was then pulled over, allegedly linked to a non-fatal drive-by shooting that had occurred a few miles away.
While police arrested the driver of the vehicle, Rose and an unidentified third person ran away, and while no shots were fired at the officer, Rose was shot three times, before later dying in hospital.
With so much scrutiny and anger placed on the doorstep of law enforcement following a slew of police slayings that most people would deem unnecessary, this is just the latest in a long line of young black men thrust into mortal peril by those who are meant to protect them, and now that more information has emerged about the officer in question, those murmurs of discontent are only likely to get louder.
Although he has not yet been named, the police officer - described as being in his 20s - had been serving in the region for seven years. However, it's emerged that he had been on duty in East Pittsburgh for only three weeks, and had been sworn in a mere 90 minutes before fatally shooting Antwon Rose.
County police are currently carrying out an investigation, and the officer in question has been placed pending the outcome of this investigation.
“In accordance with police best practices in the aftermath of officer-involved shootings, Allegheny County Police Department homicide detectives were requested to assume the role of independent investigatory agency,” said Superintendent Coleman McDonough on Wednesday.
It'll be up to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, however, to determine whether or not the shooting was justified. “That officer has the same rights as any other citizen,” said McDonough on the case, but Beth Pittinger on the Pittsburgh Police Review Board says there are a lot of unanswered questions.
“What the community is reacting to right now is a horrible video showing a young man who absconded from a traffic stop and was shot in the back by a police officer,” she said, before adding: We have to have the patience to allow the Allegheny County homicide detectives to do their job.”
Footage of the incident has sent a collective shudder through the Pittsburg community, with Antwon Rose's death sparking protests across the community. His family's attorney, D. Lee Merritt, said in a statement that Rose was a "generous, hard-working and highly promising student".
“Affirmations of his generosity of spirit and genuine good-heartedness have begun pouring in from all corners of the East Pittsburgh community where he lives. 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.”
There is a law in Pennsylvania (where the incident occurred) that says a police officer is allowed to shoot a fleeing suspect, but the law states that "deadly force can be used when force is necessary to prevent an escape and (1) the person to be arrested has committed a forcible felony, or (2) he’s attempting to escape and possesses a deadly weapon, or (3) he will endanger others if not arrested right away".