Chicago, IL – A police union has threatened to sue an attorney from the Action Injury Law Group if he continues to claim police killed a 15-year-old boy who shot himself.
The Fraternal Order of Police’s (FOP) attorneys sent attorney Andrew Stroth a letter notifying him that he and his clients, the family of Steven Rosenthal, would be sued if they should continue to defame the police officers who were at the scene after Rosenthal shot himself.
“The statements you and your clients have made are simply untrue and actionable. These officers are also affected by this event,” FOP attorney Tim Grace said in a Sept. 15 press statement posted on The Watch.
“My clients appreciate that this is a very emotional time for the family and joins with them in objecting to this senseless loss of life," the statement said.
“For this reason, my clients will grant them safe harbor for the previous defamatory statements,” Grace continued. “However, if you should decline this offer, you will leave my clients with no other alternative but to take legal action to protect their good name and reputation.”
The shooting at issue occurred just after 7 p.m. on Aug. 17 after officers spotted Rosenthal with a weapon and tried to question him, FOX News reported.
Police said Rosenthal ran from the officers and then shot himself in the head shortly thereafter, the Chicago Tribune reported.
He died at his home in the 1500-block of South Keeler Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood.
The medical examiner ruled Rosenthal’s death a suicide from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled the death a suicide based upon the autopsy and physical evidence,” Grace said. “The ballistics indicated that the officers did not fire their weapons and the body-worn cameras clearly depict the location of the officers when the shot that killed Steven Rosenthal was fired.”
Protesters were outraged as news of Rosenthal’s death became public. Their rage was fueled by a press statement the FOP said was filled with false information.
“Steven was on the stairwell of his grandmother’s house on the West Side of Chicago when police officers stormed up the stairwell chasing,” Stroth told reporters and the public a press conference that preceded the protest. “Within moments, these officers, without cause or provocation, shot and killed 15-year old Steven. … Based on several eyewitness accounts, these officers ended the hopes and the dreams of a talented young man with a bright future.”
Chicago Police Department Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that the ballistics and bodycam videos showed that no police officer fired their weapon during the encounter, according to WLS-TV.
Physical evidence showed that Rosenthal shot himself, according to CBS News.
“Despite all this independent evidence, your firm and Mr. Rosenthal’s family have made slanderous and libelous statements about the incident,” Grace said in his warning letter to Stroth.
“You also claimed to the Chicago Sun-Times that you have hired a doctor and investigator whose analysis did not indicate suicide and that there were eyewitnesses who claim the police shot Mr. Rosenthal,” the FOP attorney continued. “If this is true, I would suggest you tender these witnesses to the detectives handling the investigation.”
Thus far, the Chicago police have not publicly released the bodycam videos from Rosenthal’s suicide, but it was shown to the family.
The family responded that the body cam videos were "inconclusive."