Madison, Wis., saw peaceful protests yesterday in the wake of the shooting death of 19-year-old Tony Robinson by a police officer, with both Robinson's family and police urging non-violent demonstrations and the police chief vowing to "defend, facilitate, foster those First Amendment rights of assembly and freedom of speech." Robinson "was unarmed," says chief Mike Koval. "That's going to make this all the more complicated for the investigators, for the public to accept." The police response marks what the AP calls a "stark contrast" to Ferguson. "Our community has many questions, questions that I share. There will be answers," said Madison's mayor. "When the answers come, we will be open and transparent in communicating them." A 2014 state law mandates such cases be investigated by an outside agency, notes the AP.
Officer Matt Kenny, a 12-year veteran who Koval said was injured in the struggle that ended in Robinson's death, has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation. He had been involved in a 2007 shooting death of a suspect, reports NBC; that case was later ruled to be "suicide by cop" and he was exonerated. As for Robinson's criminal history, "I'm not here to do a character workup on someone who lost his life less than 24 hours ago," said Koval. The AP, however, checked state records and found that Robinson pleaded guilty in October to felony armed robbery in connection with a home invasion; he was sentenced to three years' probation. A neighbor says she asked him about the robbery, which she deemed out of character. "He felt he was under a lot of pressure from the others to do what he did," she says. "He told me he would never do anything like that again." (Read more Madison, Wis. stories.)