MADISON, Wi. (Reuters) - Activists protested for a third day in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sunday over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman, the latest in a string of killings that have intensified concerns of racial bias in U.S. law enforcement.
More than 100 people angry over the death of Tony Robinson Jr. marched through the streets of Madison toward the capital building on Sunday evening, carrying signs, beating drums and chanting “The people united will never be defeated.”
Earlier scores of people who took part in a sign-making event designed to involve children in the civil action rallied outside the apartment home where Robinson died.
Robinson, 19, was shot in Madison, Wisconsin’s capital, on Friday evening after Officer Matt Kenny responded to calls about a man dodging cars in traffic who had allegedly battered another person, Police Chief Mike Koval said.
Kenny, 45, followed the suspect into an apartment, where the officer was struck in the head, according to Koval. Kenny then shot the unarmed teen, who died later in a local hospital.
Last year, the deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City triggered a wave of demonstrations against the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.
Kenny is on paid administrative leave while the Wisconsin Department of Justice conducts an investigation.
In a statement on the city’s website, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin called the shooting “a tragedy beyond description” and said the city would be transparent in communicating results of an investigation into the shooting.
He noted that the incident occurred on the same weekend as the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama, a turning-point in the U.S. civil rights movement. Kenny, a 12-year veteran of the Madison Police Department, was exonerated in a police shooting in 2007 and even earned a commendation in the incident, Koval said.
According to media reports, a 48-year-old man in that instance was shot to death after he pointed a gun at officers and refused to drop his weapon. The weapon was later determined to be a replica of a .38-caliber handgun.
Wisconsin court records show that Robinson pleaded guilty to armed robbery last year and received a probated six-month sentence. Koval declined to comment on Robinson’s record.
Additonal reporting by Karen Brooks and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Alan Crosby, Eric Walsh, Leslie Adler and Alan Raybould