19-year-old man died after he was shot Friday by a Madison police officer following an altercation on Williamson Street, Chief Mike Koval said.
Madison police declined to identify the man, but family and friends identified him as Tony Robinson, a 2014 graduate of Sun Prairie High School.
After the shooting, a crowd of demonstrators and organizers from the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition gathered at the scene and formed a line across Few Street, where police had blocked off the area around the scene of the shooting.
Dozens of people drummed, prayed and chanted “Black lives matter.”
Robinson was black.
Koval said he did not know if the man had a weapon at the time of the shooting.
Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin, said Robinson was unarmed and posed the question to police: “What happened to your Taser?”
It was unclear how Irwin knew whether Robinson had a weapon.
Koval said police were called because a man, who was responsible for a recent battery, was jumping in and out of traffic and creating a safety hazard.
An officer went to an apartment that the man had gone into, heard a disturbance and forced entry, and was assaulted by the man, Koval said.
The officer drew his service weapon and shot the man, he said.
Koval said more than one shot was fired. He said the officer immediately began to administer first aid, as did other officers who arrived at the scene.
The man died at a local hospital, Koval said.
The state Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.
Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said she pulled into a gas station in the 1100 block of Williamson Street just after 6:30 p.m., heard a gunshot and saw other people crouching and motioning for her to do the same.
The 911 center received a call just before 6:30 p.m. to check on a person in the 1100 block of Williamson Street.
“Obviously this is a huge tragedy,” Taylor said. “My heart goes out to the family involved.”
“It’s a tragedy beyond description,” Mayor Paul Soglin said.
He said there will be an outside investigation of the shooting, which is required by a new state law Taylor championed.
Soglin said Madison police will not be able to provide much information about the shooting because of the investigation.
“I expect there will be a lot of anger and frustrations, particularly from friends,” Soglin said. “I hope as the pain eases that something constructive will come of this.”
Robinson’s aunt Lorien Carter described her nephew as “a beautiful young man” and “gentle,” and said, “He didn’t deserve this.”
Carter said the family was encouraging peaceful protest.
“Don’t give them the excuse” to minimize Robinson’s death, she said.
“Protest peacefully, please, but protest ... don’t let it be in vain,” she said.
“I think you need to rise up but I don’t want violence,” Irwin said.
“The bottom line is a mother lost her child,” said family friend Adam Mitchell. “He didn’t deserve to die, especially under the circumstances.”
Jack Spaulding, 17, of Madison, said he was a “best friend” of Robinson and came to the scene as soon as he heard about the shooting.
Spaulding described his friend as “one of the happiest people I know.”
Spaulding said he and his friends called the area of Williamson Street “The Block” and frequently hung out together and skateboarded in the area.
“I still can’t even fully wrap my head around this,” Spaulding said.
Taylor and Rep. Gary Bies, R-Sister Bay, co-sponsored a 2014 law mandating that all officer-involved deaths in Wisconsin be investigated by an outside agency.
Friday’s shooting is the third by Madison police since the law was adopted last April. The investigation into each of those shootings was led by the state Division of Criminal Investigation.
The most recent shooting involving a Madison officer occurred May 18, when police fatally shot 26-year-old Ashley DiPiazza as she walked toward them holding a gun to her head in a Far East Side apartment building. Sixteen days before that shooting, an officer and a sergeant responding to a double homicide in an East Side apartment shot and killed 33-year-old Londrell Johnson after he charged at them with a knife he had just used in the slayings.
The neighborhood surrounding the Williamson Street area was shaken by the controversial fatal shooting in November 2012 of Paul Heenan by Madison police officer Stephen Heimsness, who has since retired.
State Journal reporter Nico Savidge contributed to this report.
Contact Sandy Cullen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 252-6137.