Wisconsin protesters fill Capitol over fatal police shooting; family speaks out
Hundreds of protesters descended on Wisconsin's statehouse Monday, continuing protests that began after a police officer shot and killed a 19-year-old black man in Madison last week, and the city's police chief issued an apology over the man's death.
The family of Tony Robinson also spoke out for the first time during a news conference in Madison on Monday afternoon, calling on protesters to remain peaceful as demonstrations continued to grow in size.
In a blog post published Monday morning, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said his city is in mourning after Robinson's death. Police have said Robinson assaulted Officer Matt Kenny before Kenny fatally shot him Friday night.
While counseling patience as police investigate the circumstances of the shooting, Koval offered his condolences to Robinson's family.
"The police are part of this community -- and we share this sense of loss. I have stated as much to representatives of his family, in statements to the press, and to our work force," Koval wrote. "Reconciliation cannot begin without my stating 'I am sorry,' and I don't think I can say this enough. I am sorry. I hope that, with time, Tony's family and friends can search their hearts to render some measure of forgiveness."
Hours after Koval published his apology, dozens of college and high school students filled the Wisconsin Capitol, holding the third straight day of protests in the area after Robinson's death. Images showed a crush of demonstrators holding signs, including a banner reading "Black lives matter," the phrase used in protests following last year's controversial police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.
State Capitol Police said roughly 1,500 protesters were in the rotunda at about 12:30 p.m. local time, according to the Madison State Journal. No arrests or injuries had been reported.
Robinson was fatally shot Friday after officers responded to a call that the man had "battered someone" and had been "out in traffic." Kenny found Robinson inside an apartment, and Koval has said that during a scuffle, Robinson struck Kenny in the head.
Robinson later died of multiple gunshot wounds, though police have not said how many shots were fired. The incident is to be reviewed by the state Division of Criminal Investigation.
Kenny had been involved in a fatal shooting in 2007; investigators determined the victim was attempting to commit "suicide by cop," according to Koval. Kenny was later given an award in the incident, Koval said.
On Monday afternoon, Robinson's uncle Turin Carter read from a prepared statement on behalf of the family, asking protesters to remain vigilant but also calling on demonstrators to tamp down on the anti-law enforcement rhetoric that has been heard in Madison's streets in recent days.
“We understand this was an individual act that the entire Police Department has to take the responsibility for, but we understand that law enforcement is necessary," Carter said during a brief news conference. "We need to change our mindset about the police."
Carter declined to say whether he believed the officer should be charged, but he hinted that the family had taken issue with the number of shots fired during the incident. Carter would not say how many shots were fired.
He also decried the department's treatment of Robinson's mother, who he said has not been able to see her son's body, and those who have spread information about Robinson's prior arrest record.
"They try to associate his past with this act, to paint a picture about the type of kid he was," Carter said. "He was a good, kindhearted kid who was very happy, and he wanted to be accepted and he wanted to be loved.”
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2:36 p.m.: This post updated with comments made during a news conference held by Tony Robinson's family.
The first version of this post published at 1:20 p.m.
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