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Police Shooting of 19-Year-Old Black Man Sparks Protests in Wisconsin

Madison Police reported Friday that an officer had shot and killed the man around 6:30 pm, after responding to two 911 calls.

by Gillian Mohney
Mar 7 2015, 5:55pm

Ruth Leary/

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A police shooting that left a 19-year-old black man dead has sparked protests in Madison, Wisconsin.

Police reported Friday that a Madison police officer had shot and killed the man around 6:30 pm, after responding to two 911 calls.

According to the police incident report, the teen was shot and killed after struggling with the officer.

Police have not identified the slain man, but local news station WKOW reported that his name was Tony Robinson. After the shooting, crowds started to gather at the site of the incident chanting "What's his name? Tony Robinson!" as police officers stood nearby.

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Madison Police Chief Mike Koval told reporters that the shooting occurred after an officer responded to at least two 911 calls, one regarding a man running "in and out of traffic" and another reporting the same suspect had committed battery. Koval told reporters that the responding officer entered an apartment after hearing a disturbance and was "knocked down" after entering, according to local news station WKOW.

"In the context of combat in that sense, the officer did draw his revolver and subsequently shot the subject," Koval told reporters. The police chief said it was unclear if the suspect was armed at the time of the shooting.

"The initial finding at the scene did not reflect a gun or anything of that nature," he told reporters. Koval said that he believed multiple shots had been fired and that the officer immediately started CPR.

Robinson's mother, Andrea Irwin, reportedly told WKOW she was confused by the violent death of her son.

"My son has never been a violent person," Irwin told WKOW. "And to die in such a violent, violent way, it baffles me."

As people began to gather at the site of the shooting, two women identified by the Wisconsin State Journal as Robinson's grandmother, Sharon Irwin, and aunt, Lorien Carter, addressed the crowd.

"Back him into a corner and he's going to fold every time. he wouldn't hurt a fly," Carter said according to video posted to social media. "What happened here tonight...I don't have any words for it."

Other protesters shouted at police "Black lives matter!" - a rallying cry activists have used at recent nationwide protests to draw attention to discriminatory police practices. 

Sharon Irwin asked people to protest the shooting, but to remain peaceful.

"I think you need to rise up but I don't want violence," she said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Madison Police Chief Koval also urged demonstrators to protest peacefully. 

"It's understandable that the reaction seen among some of our citizens is extremely volatile and emotional and upsetting, it's absolutely appropriate in this circumstance," he told reporters. "We would urge that everybody exercise restraint and calm." 

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin told the Wisconsin State Journal the shooting was a "tragedy beyond description." 

"I expect there will be a lot of anger and frustrations, particularly from friends," Soglin said. "I hope as the pain eases that something constructive will come of this."

In accordance with state law, the Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.

Follow Gillian Mohney at @gillianmohney on Twitter.