More than 1,500 people, including students from Madison schools, took to the streets Monday, marching to city hall to protest the fatal shooting of unarmed 19-year-old Tony Robinson by a city police officer. There were no arrests during the protests, which have remained peaceful during the three days since Robinson was killed Friday night.
Also Monday, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval apologized for the shooting in a post on his blog, and asked Robinson’s family for forgiveness:
Reconciliation cannot begin without my stating ‘I am sorry,’ and I don’t think I can say this enough. I am sorry. I hope that, with time, Tony’s family and friends can search their hearts to render some measure of forgiveness. Certainly, this will not take place soon given the circumstances. It may take some time for this loop to close but I pray that it will, in fact, close.
Here’s what you need to know about the protests:
1. Protesters Called for the Arrest of the Officer Who Shot Robinson
Brandi Grayson of the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, a local activists group, said the crowd had gathered to “demand the arrest of the killer cop,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal. She said police will claim Kenny was following protocol “but we are here to say that we are sick of protocols.”
The officer, Matt Kenny, has been with the Madison police since 2002. He was cleared in the fatal shooting of a 48-year-old man in 2007 in what police have called a “suicide by cop” situation. Kenny, 45, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation by the state Department of Criminal Investigation.
2. Robinson’s Uncle Says the Family Trusts Investigators
“We are not proponents of being anti-police,” Robinson’s uncle, Turin Carter, told reporters Monday afternoon, according to WISC-TV. “Law enforcement is necessary.”
Carter says the family trusts that investigators will find the facts of the case.
3. Investigators Remain Mum on Specifics of the Shooting
No further details have been released about the shooting since Saturday. State officials have said they will not release new information until the investigation is completed.
Chief Koval said at a Friday news conference that an officer responded to 911 calls reporting a “subject” who was “jumping in and out of traffic, dodging cars and the like.” that had been responsible for a battery. Koval said the first responding officer, later identified as Officer Matt Kenny, was called to an apartment where the subject had gone. When Kenny got to the apartment, he said he heard what sounded like a disturbance inside and forced entry.
Koval said once Kenny went inside the apartment, the victim “assaulted my officer and in the context of mutual combat, the officer did draw his revolver and subsequently shot the subject.”
Kenny began to give Robinson CPR and was joined in aiding him by backup officers, Koval told reporters. Robinson was taken to a local hospital, where he died.
Koval said Kenny had been knocked down by a blow to the head. Koval was asked by a reporter if the victim was armed, and responded, “At this time it is unknown what, if anything, he had at the scene in terms of instrumentality. Initial findings at the scene did not reflect a gun or anything like that at the scene.”
On Saturday, Koval confirmed that Robinson was unarmed. He said, “We have to be clear about this. He was unarmed. That’s going to make this all the more complicated for the investigators, the public, to accept, to understand … why deadly force had to be used,” according to CNN.
Police were called to the Williamson Street incident at about 6:30 p.m. Audio from police radio transmissions has been posted online. In the audio, the dispatcher tells the responding officer that a teen named Tony Robinson was “outside yelling and jumping in between cars.” The dispatcher says “Tony hit one of his friends” and “no weapons” were seen. At 2:50 after the initial call, one of the officers says he is in an upstairs apartment. At the 3:09 mark of the audio, the officer says “shots fired, shots fired.” An ambulance is then called to the scene.
4. Mayor Addresses Protesters & Meets With Robinson’s Family
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin told reporters that he wants Madison to be the standards for how communities respond to police shootings, in terms of protests and addressing racial inequities, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
In an opinion piece published by the Wisconsin Gazette, Soglin said:
Our community has many questions, questions that I share. There will be answers. … We all deserve to know the facts in this case. Tony Robinson’s family deserves that, our community deserves that, and the Madison Police deserve that. When the answers come, we will be open and transparent in communicating them.
5. Details Emerge About Robinson’s Life
Details about Robinson’s life have emerged in the days since he was killed, including his conviction for felony robbery after a 2014 home invasion. Robinson was on probation stemming from that conviction. He was also a recent high school graduate planning to attend a local technical college. And, according to the Associated Press, he was dealing with ADHD, anxiety and depression.
Robinson’s uncle said Monday, “We don’t think Tony is a saint. He has made mistakes. That is completely disassociated with this act.”