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August 20, 2018

Shock and disbelief as Police claims Chicago teen kills himself while running from its officers

A Chicago community is in disbelief after a 16-year-old African-American teen reportedly shot himself while running from officers after they tried to question him about being in possession of a weapon.

The incident unfolded just before 7pm local time on Friday, when police spotted Steven Rosenthal with a gun and tried to talk to him, according to the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The teen ran away from the officers, into his grandmother's apartment building, and then "tragically used the weapon on himself," CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted.

Rosenthal died half an hour later at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. An autopsy performed on Saturday ruled his death a suicide.

But family members, friends, and residents of Chicago's Lawndale neighborhood say they don't believe the police account of the incident.

"He was a baby. He had a life to live. Where's the evidence? We want to see the evidence," Rosenthal's aunt, who asked not to be named, told ABC 7.

“He’s been my homie since the sixth grade,” a 16-year-old friend of Rosenthal told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t believe he would shoot himself. He just wouldn’t do something like that.”

Another boy, 15, told the newspaper that Rosenthal "wasn't a gang banger, he was just a hooper," referencing his love for basketball.

Other friends told local news outlet WGN9 that Rosenthal had been dancing and getting ready for a party just moments before the incident unfolded.

“He went through the back of the gangway to get some water,” said Sherman Baker, who was Rosenthal's friend. “They shot him and that’s when they pointed the gun at us and we ran.”

However, Guglielmi said that ballistics confirmed that officers did not fire any weapons during the confrontation. Although there is bodycam footage of the incident, it does not show the moment that Rosenthal shot himself, he said.

The head coach of the boys basketball team at Crane Medical Prep High School told the Sun-Times that Rosenthal had been "really lost" since his mother died of an illness shortly after the season ended in March. The teen's father died when Rosenthal was six years old.

A spokesman for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability said the agency is reviewing the case.

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