Chief Koval: taser should have been available, deadly force "jud - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Chief Koval: taser should have been available, deadly force "judgment call"

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 MADISON (WKOW) -- In an interview with 27 News, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says a taser is a standard piece of equipment for patrol officers and should have been available to Officer Matt Kenny as he responded to a call Friday involving African American teenager Tony Robinson, but says the use of deadly force is a "judgment call."

Authorities say Kenny shot and killed the unarmed teen inside an apartment building on Williamson Street.

Koval says Kenny was "punched with a fist,"  and was "staggered" by Robinson after Kenny forced his way into the building, after receiving dispatch information Robinson was disrupting traffic and may have committed a battery.  Koval says Kenny then shot the 19-year old Robinson, during an encounter between the men that lasted less than a minute.

Koval says "exigent circumstances" such as someone's welfare being at risk can lead an officer to take individual action, in the absence of back up officers, or the ability for police to "stage" a response outside a call.  Koval says delay in such an individual response can be the difference between life and death, in some circumstances.

Koval provided no answer to 27 News on whether Robinson was alone in the apartment area when the confrontation took place between Kenny and Robinson.

Both Koval and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin say Madison's protocol and procedures on an officer's use of deadly force are sound, with Soglin saying they a standard to be followed by other departments, and Koval noting they are in accordance with state law enforcement standards.

Koval says three officers initially responded to the calls Friday evening about Robinson's alleged behavior, but Kenny entered the apartment building on his own, without the assistance of the other officers.  It is not clear when the other officers arrived.

Court records show Robinson was on probation in connection to an armed robbery conviction at the time of his death.  Records show Robinson's grandmother had appealed to the court to consider Robinson's good character, challenging life experience, and future plans in deciding a sentence. Sharon Irwin noted in her letter to the court Robinson could be "impulsive."  In correspondence to the court, Robinson's attorney noted Robinson had been a special education student.  In an impact statement submitted to the court, one of the victims of the armed robbery carried out by Robinson and others wrote "...I worry constantly that something like this will happen again.  I am in fear for my life."

Since Robinson's fatal shooting, protesters and others have made comparisons between Madison and Ferguson, Missouri, where an officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed, African American teenager sparked riots, and criticism of Ferguson Police Department tactics and treatment of African-Americans.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin says Madison police officers have been trained to recognize racial bias in enforcement actions.  Soglin says community education and interventions have emphasized impartial policing.

But Soglin says he braced for the possibility of an incident similar to Ferguson happening in Madison.

"I don't think there's a responsible mayor in this country who did not have that underlying concern,"  Soglin says.

"I did not want to believe it could happen here," Koval tells 27 News.  "I still wonder how it happened here."

Koval says this is a critical time for perceptions of his police force, in the wake of Robinson's shooting.

"I don't want this to define us," Koval tells 27 News.

In accordance with state law, the state department of justice is the outside agency conducting the investigation into the Friday, officer-involved shooting on Williamson Street.



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