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“Justifiable Homicide:” a Conversation with Filmmaker Jon Osman About the Face of Police Brutality

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In 1995, two Puerto Rican teenagers were murdered by New York police department detectives in a stakeout in the Bronx.

The documentary “Justifiable Homicide” investigates the killings.

Forensic evidence and testimony from witnesses reveals that Bronx teenagers Anthony Rosario and his cousin Hilton Vega were shot repeatedly while lying facedown. They had weapons in their possession, but they never fired a shot. One of the detectives involved was the former bodyguard of then-Mayor Rudolph Guiliani. Immediately after the killings, Giuliani visited him in the hospital.

The police closed the case. When the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board asked the police department to reopen the case, the police department rejected the recommendation.

The film builds a terrifying portrait of police brutality and cover up at the highest levels. But the film is also the story of Anthony’s mother, Margarita Rosario, as she seeks justice for her son and other victims of human rights abuses by police. The film follows Margarita Rosario as she is transformed from a mourning mother and aunt to a powerful community activist.

The filmmakers are Jonathan Stack and Jon Osman. Jonathan Stack directed the Oscar-nominated documentaries 'The Farm' and 'The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo'. Osman is a graduate of the NYU film school, and makes his feature debut with Homicide. He joins us today in our studio.


  • Jon Osmon, co-director and filmmaker of “Justifiable Homicide.” It is the US premiere of this film.



  • “Justifiable Homicide” clip


  • John Anderson, co-director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival

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