Teen’s death ruled suicide after North Lawndale police chase; relatives raise questions

CHICAGO — Chicago police said a 16-year-old boy took his own life after a foot chase Friday night. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a suicide, but the teen's relatives and friends are raising questions about what happened.

The teen was identified Saturday as Steven Rosenthal, a student who played basketball at Crane Medical Prep High School.

According to police, officers in North Lawndale tried to question a teenager with a gun in the 1500 block of South Keeler Avenue about 7 p.m. Friday. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the teen ran to the back of a building and then ran up the stairs. He initially put the gun down on a ledge, Guglielmi said, and picked it back up before using it on himself.

But people gathering at the scene disputed the police account Friday night. Friends said just moments before, Rosenthal had been dancing and getting ready for a party.

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

Guglielmi said ballistics confirm officers did not fire any weapons during the confrontation. There is body camera footage, he said, but it does not show the suicide.

Rosenthal was fatally shot in his head, according to the medical examiner’s office. Questions about his death erupted on social media.

The Civilian Office of Police  Accountability is investigating.