Tony Terrell Robinson Jr., a young black man, was 19 and unarmed when he was shot by a white Madison, Wisconsin police officer, Mike Kenney. After this announcement Chief Mike Koval asked for people to remain calm over word that a young black man had been shot. Protestors had gathered on City Hall, Friday night chanting, “Black lives matter.” Chief Koval says that he understands the frustration of the public.
Chief Koval told the public that the fact the teen who was shot, was unarmed will make this violence harder for the public and investigators to understand why the officer chose to use deadly force. It has been stated that Robinson allegedly assaulted the officer when he was responding to a disturbance call at the residence Friday night where the shot was fired. Chief Koval said the street protests reminded him of the ones that followed the deaths of the black men shot in Ferguson, Missouri as well as Staten Island, New York after police confrontations. Chief Koval was asked if Robinson had a record and he told the person that question was inappropriate at this time.
Officer Mike Kenney, 45, has been with the Madison Police Department for 12 years. This was not the first time he has fatally shot a man. When Officer Kenney was on duty in 2007, he shot and killed a man. Not only was he exonerated on any charges or wrongdoing, he received a commendation. The incident was derived to be a “suicide by cop” incident, which required Officer Kenney to have fired the shot.
Chief Koval visited the Robinson home late Friday night after Robinson was shot. He met with Robinson’s grandparents. They prayed and talked together. Koval was advised to wait and visit Robinson’s mother, given the circumstances. He said he could not even attempt to understand the enormous loss this tragedy caused. He told the community to straight up tell him how upset they were with the Madison police. To tell him they were angry a young man was shot. That they were angry another young black man was shot. This may help people to vent their anger without more violence.
Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin said her son was not a violent person. She said he was a father figure to other children. She could not understand why he died is such a violent manner, shot by a police officer. He was a gentle caretaker. He had a beautiful soul. He was going to be attending Milwaukee Area Technical College. He was going to study business.
The family was kept from seeing him at the crime scene. Robinson’s grandmother just wanted to hold him and tell him everything was going to be okay. She was told that he was “evidence.”
Friday night’s incident began with a call that there was a possible suspect, from a recent assault incident, at an apartment. Before that call, another one said the suspect was “jumping in and out of traffic.” It was believed that the suspect that had gone into the apartment was the same man seen playing in traffic. Officer Kenney responded to the call and went to the apartment and when Officer Kenney heard a commotion, he broke into the apartment. When Officer Kenney entered the apartment, the subject, who was believed to be the suspect that had assaulted someone and was in traffic, assaulted the police officer. Then Officer Kenney drew his weapon and shot the 19-year-old black teen. That happened at approximately 6:30 p.m. Backup officers attempted CPR, but Robinson died at the hospital. Kenney was treated for a blow to the head and was sent home. He is now on administrative leave with pay.
Attorney General Brad Schimel made a statement Saturday admitting he could only imagine the pain the family of the young man was going through losing such a young life. He also mentioned that he imagined the police officer who shot the 19-year-old was also going through a traumatic experience. They are all in my prayers he said.
Wisconsin law requires officer-related shootings to be investigated by an outside agency. The Division of Criminal Investigation will be investigating this particular case. Once the investigation is complete a report will be given to the local district attorney.
Mayor Paul Soglin spoke to the anger and frustrations of the community losing the 19-year-old black teen who was shot. He referred to the incident as “an enormous tragedy.” He said he understood that there was a family in great pain. He also understood that the city and especially the neighborhood felt the pain as well. He continued that so much has happened across the country, and now in the Madison community, due to several young black men being shot. Therefore, Soglin says that it is understood that reactions can get volatile and overly emotional. The chief really wanted the community to know that their reactions were vindicated but called for restraint in this time of turmoil following the teenager in question being shot.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of Adam Gerard – Flickr License