MADISON (WITI/AP) — Madison's mayor says he's pleased demonstrations over the officer-involved shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson have remained peaceful.
Mayor Paul Soglin said during a news conference Tuesday, March 10th that he's heard Madison being compared to other cities where similar incidents have taken place — a veiled reference to Ferguson, Missouri, where riots ensued after Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown.
Mayor Soglin says Madison's city government is trying to help minorities -- pointing out the city is part of Cities United, an effort by municipalities to eliminate violent deaths of African-American men, and My Brother's Keeper, a public-private partnership President Barack Obama launched to improve the lives of young minority men.
Tony Robinson was bi-racial.
"This has been very trying on all of us in the city of Madison. I think it's critical that we not prejudge what may come from the investigation and the report," Mayor Soglin said.
Officer Matt Kenny shot Robinson on Friday, March 6th in a Madison apartment house on Williamson Street. A growing tribute to Robinson now sits in front of that home.
The incident started when authorities got a call that a male was yelling and jumping in front of cars, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said.
A little later, the dispatcher says, “Apparently Tony hit one of his friends. No weapons seen.”Dispatchers identified him as Tony Robinson, according to 911 audio obtained by WKOW.
About four minutes later, the dispatcher says, “I got another call for the same suspect at [the same address]. He tried to strangle another patron.”
About 30 seconds later, an unidentified officer says, “Shots fired, shots fired.”
When Officer Matt Kenny went to the apartment, he heard some commotion and forced his way in, Koval said.
“Once inside the home the subject involved in this incident — the same one allegedly out in traffic and that had battered someone — assaulted my officer,” Koval said.
Koval says Robinson attacked Officer Kenny.
After that, according to the chief, “The officer did draw his revolver and subsequently shot the subject.”
Robinson did have a criminal history. Wisconsin Circuit Court documents indicate Robinson pleaded guilty in December to an armed robbery that occurred last April.
The deadly confrontation has made Madison the latest epicenter of protests. Tuesday marked the fifth straight day of demonstrations. Following weekend protests, demonstrators rallied at the Capitol on Monday morning. A Department of Administration spokesman tells FOX6 News there were 1,500 people present at the Capitol rally. Meanwhile, students staged a walkout at the city’s East High School after classes. A vigil was held in Robinson’s honor in Madison on Sunday.
Folks with the Young, Gifted and Black organization rallied Tuesday before a Dane County Public Protection & Judiciary Committee meeting discussing the jail. They then shared their concerns with that committee.
"It's been very, very tragic. Very sad," a demonstrator said.
Emotions ran high as folks expressed their concerns over the officer-involved shooting of Tony Robinson.
"People are very angry. People are very hurt," a demonstrator said.
More demonstrations are planned for Wednesday, March 11th on a "National Day of Action" in Madison. Families are expected to converge on Madison to demand fully-funded public schools, a living wage for every Wisconsin worker, and systemic change so that communities of color can live free of mass incarceration and violence against minorities involving police officers. This will also be a demonstration against Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget.
Twenty-eight states are expected to take part in "National Day of Action" events.
Members of Wisconsin Jobs Now, Young, Gifted, and Black, Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), 9to5 Wisconsin, Concerned Citizens of Wausau, SEIU Local 1, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998, Ferguson to Madison, AFSCME DC-48, United Wisconsin, the African-American Roundtable, the International Socialist Organization and the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) are expected to take part in "National Day of Action" events in Madison Wednesday.
The Coalition for Justice, which has organized demonstrations in support of Dontre Hamilton and his family in Milwaukee is also expected to attend. 31-year-old Hamilton was shot and killed by former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney in Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee in April 2014.
"We'll be rallying the people and marching. What we hope to do is raise awareness -- continue to raise awareness about state violence and what it looks like," community organizer Eric Upchurch said.
Also Wednesday, a demonstration is planned in support of the Madison Police Department and Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny. That demonstration is planned for 5:00 p.m. at the Law Enforcement Memorial on North Pinckney Street in Madison.
A fellow officer posted the following message on Facebook in support of Officer Matt Kenny:
"Matt Kenny is my friend. He is one of the most professional, compassionate, and level-headed people I have ever known. As an officer, he is someone I have trusted many times with my safety and my life. If my family needed help, or if they were in danger, I would want Matt to respond to help them.
On countless occasions, Matt has put his own safety at risk to come to the aid of complete strangers who needed help, and I have no doubt that's what he did on Friday night when citizens called 911 after being allegedly attacked, assaulted and strangled. Having been involved in a shooting myself, I can attest that no officer would ever choose to subject themselves and their families to the stress, fear and trauma that comes with such an incident - unless they believed it was the only possible way they, or another innocent person would survive to see their loved ones again.
Matt is a skilled officer who trains vigorously because understands that people will rely on his performance when they need him in the most dire of circumstances. But more remarkable than Matt's devotion to others as their protector - is his compassion for life. Matt has used his experience as a Coast Guard medic to help bring medical/trauma training and equipment to MPD officers, which has helped save the lives of many citizens throughout the city. As recently as March 1st, officers used that very training to help save the life of a young African American man who was shot multiple times on Russett Rd. Matt trains new recruits and veteran officers in the department on how to respond to mass-casualty events or active shooter situations, so officers will be prepared to help treat victims and provide life-saving first aid during those critical moments. What is clear about Matt is he has fundamental belief in the sanctity of human life, and has invested so much of his time and energy in protecting it.
There are two photos of Matt that perhaps you've seen. One is him delivering cakes to couples who were being married last year at the Capitol after the courts struck down a ban on gay-marriage. The other is Matt administering oxygen to a cat after a fire. Why did he do these things? Because he cares about people, and because he values life.
Matt is one of the many fine officers I am proud to work alongside. The people of Madison are fortunate to have such a man in their service."
The Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation in this case. It will present its report to the Dane County District Attorney's Office for review.
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