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Madison Police Chief Apologizes and Prays With Grandma of Unarmed Black Teen Killed in Latest Police Shooting

( [email protected] ) Mar 09, 2015 06:46 PM EDT
A police shooting in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday night is sadly reminiscent of the officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri last August that resulted in extensive rioting and a new awareness of the treatment of black Americans at the hands of police. But Madison's police chief is taking steps to make sure that his department doesn't make the mistakes made in Ferguson.
Protesters march in Madison on Sunday to bring attention to the officer-involved shooting on Friday night. Photo: AP Photo/Andy Manis

A police shooting in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday night is sadly reminiscent of the officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri last August that resulted in extensive rioting and a new awareness of the treatment of black Americans at the hands of police. But Madison's police chief is taking steps to make sure that his department doesn't make the mistakes made in Ferguson.

Tony Robinson, 19, was shot and killed on Friday by Madison police officer Matt Kenny during the officer's response to a 911 call reporting that the teen was jumping in front of cars and assaulting people. When Kenny pursued Robinson into an apartment building, the officer entered when he heard a "commotion" inside. A struggle allegedly ensued, and Kenny reports shooting Robinson when the teen attacked the officer.

As protests and chants of "no justice, no peace" were happening outside of Madison's Wisconsin State Capitol building on Friday, Police Chief Mike Koval penned a blog post apologizing to the family of Robinson.

"Reconciliation cannot begin without my stating 'I am sorry,' and I don't think I can say this enough. I am sorry," the chief wrote. "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."

Koval is said to have gone to the home of Robinson's mother to meet with her and discuss the shooting, but when the woman refused, Koval talked and prayed with Robinson's grandmother in front of the home for 45 minutes.

The chief and others are pleading for non-violence in Madison, and so far, the vigils and protests have been peaceful. But while Koval is being pro-active about making sure that Madison doesn't turn into the next Ferguson, it's his January blog post criticizing the activist group Young, Gifted and Black for blaming police for "everything from male pattern baldness to global warming" that has some questioning the chief. 

Koval's blog post was in response to the activist group's protests over officer-involved shootings and their demands for the release of 350 black inmates from prison.

It has been revealed that this isn't the first time Officer Kenny has been involved with a fatal shooting while on duty. The 12-year veteran was cleared of all wrong-doing in the 2007 shooting death of Ronald Brandon who was reported drunk and waving a gun around. It was later shown that Brandon's ex-wife told dispatcher beforehand that the gun was only a pellet gun, but that information didn't get to the officers in time. The man was killed when he pointed the pistol at the responding officers.

"Officer Kenny was presented with a life and death choice that required him to match the direct threat of lethal force with lethal force," District Attorney Brian Blanchard wrote to Madison Police Chief Noble Wray during the investigation.

Robinson is also no stranger to police as he had been apprehended back in April of 2014 for staging an armed robbery with a BB gun. The teen told investigators that he stole a TV and an Xbox 360 from an apartment while looking for marijuana and money. He was sentenced to three years probation in December.