MADISON, WI. — Protests erupted in Wisconsin’s capital overnight after a police officer fatally shot a teenager who authorities said attacked him.
The 19-year-old was shot after allegedly assaulting police who were responding to a scene at a Madison apartment Friday evening, said Mike Koval, the city’s police chief.
While the chief indicated the officer acted in self-defense, that didn’t stop protesters from hitting the streets and converging on Madison’s city hall to speak out against the shooting.
“Who do we trust?” some called out, prompting the response, “No one!”
And in another refrain, they chanted, “Black lives matter.”
That’s in reference to the fact the slain teen was of mixed race.
Koval acknowledged the anger, which is reminiscent of the sentiment following the deaths of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, after confrontations with police. Grand juries decided not to indict the police officers involved in those cases.
“In light of so much things that have happened, not just across the country, but in our own community, it’s understandable that the reaction at the scene and of some of our citizens is extremely volatile, emotional and upsetting,” the police chief told CNN affiliate WKOW-TV.
“And we understand that. That’s absolutely appropriate under these circumstances. We would urge, obviously, that everyone exercise restraint.”
Chief: Young man ‘assaulted my officer’
The incident started when authorities got a call that a man suspected in a recent battery had gone to an apartment, Koval said.
Shortly before that call, another one had come in, saying the same person was “jumping in and out of traffic, dodging cars,” according to the police chief.
When a responding officer went to the apartment, he heard some commotion and forced his way in, he 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.
After that, according to the chief, “The officer did draw his revolver and subsequently shot the subject.”
Backup officers and others at the scene performed CPR on the young man, who later died at the hospital.
The officer suffered a blow to the head, but is being treated and will be released, Koval said.
It’s unclear whether the teenager had a weapon, according to the police chief.
Madison police did not name the person killed. But Andrea Irwin, who says she’s the teenager’s mother, identified him as Tony Robinson, according to WKOW.
“He was our caretaker and so gentle,” the woman said. “I don’t understand this.
Mayor: Incident ‘an enormous tragedy’
Under Wisconsin law, officer-involved shootings are investigated by an outside agency, in this case the Division of Criminal Investigation.
Yet some are demanding answers sooner rather than later.
Dozens of demonstrators came out to the area around the apartment, which police had blocked off. A group also moved toward city hall before dispersing early Saturday.
The protesters’ sentiments were echoed online, where some adopted the #WillyStreet hashtag in reference to Williamson Street, where the shooting happened.
“Praying for Madison tonight,” wrote one activist. “Stand up, sit in, walk out – until u get answers. And until there are no more hashtag eulogies.”
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin spoke to the raw feelings, calling what happened “an enormous tragedy.”
“We’ve got a family that’s really hurting,” Soglin said, according to WKOW. “And we’ve got a city and neighborhood that’s feeling pretty, well, hurt itself.”