Police say Chicago teen killed himself; family denies he did

Loved ones of a late Chicago teen whose Friday death was ruled a suicide are calling for an independent investigation and believe the teen may have been shot dead by police.

The Chicago Police Department said Steve Rosenthal, 15, had been holding a handgun outside his grandmother’s home, where he lived, on South Keeler Avenue in Lawndale around 7pm that evening.

The department said the teen fled when he noticed officers approaching him before he shot himself in the head shortly after. 

The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the teen’s death a suicide by gunshot wound, according to the Chicago Tribune.  

More than 120 supporters gathered Sunday to protest the teen’s death, despite the autopsy report.

Some witnesses have led the family and their attorney, Andrew Stroth, to believe other events occurred as police have not released body cam footage from the incident.

Chicago Police spokesman Michael Carroll said the shooting is under investigation.

According to the Tribune, Carroll said the department ‘has not come to a point where the decision has been made to release the body cam video.’

Sloth said in a statement on the Tribune that he believes Rosenthal was ‘shot dead without cause or provocation.’

The GoFundMe page set up by the late teen’s aunt, Terinica Thomas-Level, tells the family’s side of the story. 

‘Last night my 15-year old-nephew was slain by CPD! Steven just celebrated his birthday on Monday! Steven was at his grandmother’s house enjoying friends like a normal child,’ the description reads. 

‘Witnesses say Steve was going into the house to get water when detectives persued him! As he was going up the stairs witnesses say the detectives had weapons drawn! Shots were fired! Steven died from a gun shot wound to the back of his head!

‘How/why would anyone shoot themselves in the back of the head? Steven was an amazing son, grandson, nephew, and older brother.  

Thomas-Level said she believes her nephew didn’t have the heart to commit suicide and wanted to care for his two younger brothers ‘to make his mother proud.’

‘Steve lost his father at the age of 10 and he lost his mother (my sister) just 5 months ago,’ his aunt wrote.

‘Steve would NEVER do such a thing and I’m beyond disgusted with this outrageous lie! Please help our family get justice! Help us lay our baby to rest!’

The GoFundMe page raised $640 of its $10,000 goal as of late Sunday. 

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