The officer who killed Antwon Rose will face a judge for his crime. Here's why it matters.

Antwon Rose Jr. knew that as a black male teenager, he was marked in a way others were not.

In fact, when he was 15, he wrote a heartfelt poem about how he feared society perceived him.

"I see mothers bury their sons / I want my mom to never feel that pain," Rose wrote.


Unfortunately, his fears came true.

On June 17, 2018, the unarmed 17-year-old was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld.

After running from Rosfeld — who was inspecting a car Rose had been in — Rose was shot three times, with reports indicating that the bullets hit his face, right arm, and the middle of his back.

Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images.

According to The Washington Post, Rose was the first person killed by the East Pittsburgh Police Department since at least 2015. In that same period, 23% of those killed by police officers and 36% of all unarmed people who had been killed were black.

Unsurprisingly, the world was outraged — and tired of having to be outraged.

"He murdered my son in cold blood," Michelle Kenney told ABC News. "If he has a son, I pray his heart never has to hurt the way mine does. But I think he should pay for taking my son's life. I really do."

Well, now it looks like he might.

On June 27, Rosfeld was charged with criminal homicide, a charge rarely brought when officers kill civilians.

Pennsylvania state code defines criminal homicide as when a person "intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being." According to court reports, Rosfeld was arraigned on June 27 for the charge, and his bail was set at $250,000. A preliminary hearing is set for July 6.

"This is a small stride toward justice but we have a very long road ahead," Rose family attorney Lee Merritt tweeted after the announcement.

According to The Washington Post, 491 people have been shot and killed by police so far in 2018.

In 2017, the total was 987. In 1 out of 5 police shootings, officers' names aren't disclosed, and actually being charged with a criminal charge is even rarer.

According to a report from Dr. Philip Stinson at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, between 2005 and 2017, 80 officers were arrested on manslaughter or murder charges for on-duty shootings. During that same 12-year span, just 35% were convicted, while the rest either were not convicted or still had pending cases.

Rosfeld being convicted is statistically unlikely, but it's definitely possible.

And it sends an important signal: Black children will no longer be shot and killed without retribution or public outcry.

After numerous high-profile police shootings such as Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, and Tamir Rice, activists, scholars, and politicians alike have been calling out our nation's pervasive history of police brutality and calling for massive structural change.

Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images.

Black teens — who continue to face an insurmountable amount of gun violence in comparison to their white peers — should not have to fear for their lives when going through the everyday experiences of being a kid.

Black kids are smart, talented, and thoughtful. They also make mistakes, and sometimes get involved in things they shouldn't.

All kids should be able to experience their childhood and teenage years without fearing for their lives.

We owe it to black children not only to hold gun-wielding officers accountable, but also to reduce bias in society so black children aren't automatically seen as a threat in the first place.

Let's hope this charge is an important step in the right direction.

Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images.

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