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Family of Antwon Rose, killed by cop, files federal lawsuit against borough, officer, chief, mayor

The family of Antwon Rose has filed a federal lawsuit in connection with the shooting death of their son. Carmen Ashley (above), Rose's great aunt, cries as she holds the memorial card from Rose's funeral during a protest. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

The family of Antwon Rose, the 17-year-old teen who was shot and killed by an East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, police officer, has filed a federal lawsuit against the borough, the officer, the police chief, and East Pittsburgh's mayor.

What's the background?

The officer, Michael Rosfeld, fatally shot Rose following a June traffic stop. The vehicle in which Rose was a passenger had reportedly been linked to a nonfatal drive-by shooting earlier that evening.

During the traffic stop, Rosfeld cuffed the driver, and Rose and a third person took the opportunity to flee on foot. Rosfeld pulled out his service weapon and shot Rose, striking him several times. Rose was unarmed.

Rose was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died. His death sparked protests across East Pittsburgh for weeks.

About a week after Rose's death, Rosfeld was charged with criminal homicide in the teen's shooting death. According to the criminal complaint, Rosfeld reportedly shot Rose in the face, in the middle of his back, and in his right arm.

Last week, Rosfeld waived his preliminary hearing.

According to ABC News, an attorney for Rosfeld told reporters in June, “I’m not going to get into my conversations with my client, but I think the law is clear that he had a right to shoot. Reading the affidavit of probable cause, which is the facts that the police write to support the arrest warrant, quite frankly, I don’t see it as a murder case at all.”

Rosfeld is set to be arraigned on Aug. 22.

Video of the Rosfeld shooting Rose was shared widely on the internet.

(Content warning: graphic footage)

What about the lawsuit?

According to WTAE-TV, Rose's family filed a lawsuit against the borough. The lawsuit alleges wrongful death against Rosfeld, Chief Lori Fruncek, and Mayor Louis Payne as well, WTAE reported, and highlights the department's alleged lack of policies and procedures in training police officers in the borough.

The lawsuit also alleges excessive and deadly force.

Fred and Monte Rabner, attorneys representing the Rose family, told ABC News the suit was filed electronically around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The lawsuit also notes that Rosfeld acted in a hostile manner and impulsively. The lawsuit also alleged that Rosfeld didn't even warn Rose prior to fatally shooting him.

"The overwhelming facts and unequivocal law supporting this lawsuit are so clear and self-evident that it could have been filed within days of Antwon's death. However, the family deserved to lay their son, brother and grandson to rest in a peaceful fashion," attorney Fred Rabner said, according to WTAE. "And while this suit will never quell their tremendous grief or minimize their tragic loss, we feel that it is time that we begin to seek answers, and take appropriate court action to assure justice."

The mayor, the police department, and the borough released a joint statement, also obtained by ABC News.

"We acknowledge the serious allegations directed at our management of the borough police department and that our officer has been charged by the District Attorney with homicide," the statement said. "We are engaged in an evaluation of the operations of our police department in a determined spirit of correcting any shortcomings that we find.

"We wish to convey to the residents of our Borough and our greater community that we are committed to learn from these very difficult lessons and improve our management of our local government," the statement concluded.

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