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Grieving family will get to see video of moments before teen’s disputed death

Steven Rosenthal | Crane Medical Prep High School photo

Doubtful of the official story that 15-year-old Steven Rosenthal took his own life with a gun during a foot chase with police, friends and family members gathered outside a West Side police station on Sunday and chanted, “We want the tape.”

On Monday, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said family members will get to see the tape — footage that captures the moments before the fatal gunshot, but not the gunshot itself.

“As soon as we can hopefully provide them some relief, we will certainly do that . . . just to assure them, and to let them know certain things about the circumstances of what occurred,” Johnson said without elaborating.

Johnson made the remarks Monday morning at a news conference held at police headquarters to discuss weekend gun violence.

Asked when the video would be released to the public, Johnson said “at some point . . . but before we release anything to the public, I certainly would like the family to see it first.”

“My heart goes out,” Johnson said, offering condolences to the Rosenthal family. “That was a tragic incident. And I tell you, any time you have a loss of life in this city, especially under circumstances like that, you know, it’s difficult, so I understand their anguish,”

Rosenthal’s family dismisses the notion that the Crane High School basketball player would have killed himself.

According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, Rosenthal died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a suicide.

An autopsy report that should offer details such as the angle of the gunshot wound is expected to be released in about six to eight weeks.

Officers spotted Rosenthal with a gun and tried to stop him about 6:55 p.m. Friday near his home in the 1500 block of South Keeler, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. But Rosenthal ran away and shot himself, he said.

Chicago police say there is no evidence that any officer fired a weapon during the encounter.

But Rosenthal’s family marched with activists through North Lawndale on Sunday, rejecting the conclusion that he committed suicide.

“My nephew would never commit suicide, ever,” said Terinica Thomas, the boy’s aunt and legal guardian.

She was joined by family attorney Andrew Stroth, who called for an independent investigation into Rosenthal’s death.

Stroth insisted that eyewitnesses saw Rosenthal’s death play out differently, but he did not name them or say how many there are.

Alonzo Crowder, head coach of boys basketball at Crane Medical Prep High School — where Rosenthal played — said Rosenthal’s mother died of an illness shortly after the season ended in March. Rosenthal’s father died when he was 6.


Community in disbelief after Crane basketball player’s suicide in police chase