Having learned from the protests that engulfed Ferguson, Mo., after unarmed teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in August 2014, the police chief of Madison, Wis., immediately reached out to Tony Robinson’s family to express his condolences after the unarmed 19-year-old was fatally shot by a white police officer late Friday, the Associated Press reports.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval went to Robinson’s house and asked to speak with Robinson’s mother, and when she declined, Koval spoke and prayed with Robinson’s grandmother in the driveway for 45 minutes.
Koval had previously said that he wanted to avoid the “missteps” that the Ferguson Police Department made after Brown died, according to the Washington Post, which included not immediately releasing the name of the officer who shot Brown and not communicating with incensed members of the town’s African-American community over their concerns about the excessive police force used in their neighborhoods.
“Folks are angry, resentful, mistrustful, disappointed, shocked, chagrined. I get that,” Koval said Saturday. “People need to tell me squarely how upset they are with the Madison Police Department.”
Koval released the name of the officer, Matt Kenny, who shot Robinson and also made public Kenny’s prior involvement in a fatal police shooting in 2007, an incident in which Kenny was cleared of wrongdoing.
The town’s police union even chimed in and reiterated how differently Kenny and the Madison police force are treating Robinson’s shooting. “We have a police chief who genuinely feels for a family’s loss. It should be abundantly clear to anyone following this incident that Madison, Wisconsin, is not Ferguson, Missouri,” Jim Palmer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said.
Robinson was convicted of armed robbery last year, and court documents from that case described how he suffered from attention deficit disorder and “tended to be an impulsive risk-taker,” AP reports.