Protests Continue After Fatal Police Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen In Madison, Wisconsin

Demonstrators carried a banner reading "Black lives matter," as they marched through the streets of Madison after 19-year-old's death Friday night.

by VICE News
Mar 8 2015, 9:10pm

Photo via Wisconsin Department of Corrections/AP

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The chant "Black lives matter," that has echoed from coast to coast in the wake of several police killings of unarmed black men in recent months, was once again heard this weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, where protesters gathered in anger after officers fatally shot an unarmed teen.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval begged the community to act with restraint following the death of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was shot in his apartment by a police officer who had forced him way into the teen's house following reports of a disturbance inside.

"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," Koval told reporters. "We would urge that everybody exercise restraint and calm."

Video from Madison shows several dozen protesters rallying through the streets of the city on Saturday, bearing a giant banner with the words "Black lives matter" and chanting "What's his name? Tony Robinson!" The protests lasted through the afternoon and into the evening as police officers stood on standby close to the protesters.

The crowd assembled at City Hall briefly before marching to the scene of the shooting, according to Reuters.

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Koval told reporters that the shooting occurred after officer Matt Kenny responded to at least two 911 calls around 6:30pm Friday. One of the calls reported a man running "in and out of traffic" and the other alleged 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.

Koval said Sunday that Officer Kenny had been injured in the melee but did not give details.

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."

Wisconsin court records show that Robinson pleaded guilty to felony armed robbery last October and was given three years' probation in December. 

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

Canadian TV news network CTV reports that Madison activists prepared to gather to discuss the shooting Sunday. It is not clear whether further protests have also been planned.