Madison Police Chief Defends Officer Who Shot Unarmed Man

Koval Says People Should Wait For Facts Before Judging Officer

Shawn Johnson/WPR

Madison Police Chief Michael Koval used his blog on Monday to speak out against what he said are attempts to smear the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager earlier this month.

Officer Matt Kenny shot and killed Tony Robinson on March 6 after responding to a call that Robinson had assaulted someone. It was the second officer-involved shooting for Kenny. But Chief Koval wants the public to know that Kenny received 45 commendations during his more than 12 years on the force, some for administering life saving first aid to gunshot or stabbing victims.

“I’m just trying to create some understanding that there’s a very compassionate person behind that badge that’s getting lost in the shuffle,” he said.

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Since Robinson’s death, some community members have been asking for changes in the police departments use of force policies. Koval said those discussions should wait until all the facts are known about how and why the shooting happened.

Former Madison Police Chief David Couper, however, said focusing on Kenny’s record distracts from what he believes is the more important issue.

“It’s not about Tony Robinson, and it’s not about Matt Kenney,” said Couper. “It’s about policing and it’s about how we use force and how we should be using force, especially deadly force. That’s the conversation that we need to have.”

Community activists calling for reform of the lethal force standards have pointed to a shooting incident that occurred the day before Robinson was shot and are asking why the two situations were dealt with differently. In the earlier incident a man fired shots at police who were responding to a domestic violence call. Officers were able to convince 31 year old Tommie Evans to walk outside and put down his gun.

Koval said it’s not fair to suggest both incidents should have had nonfatal outcomes until the all the facts about the Robinson shooting are known.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with original reporting to replace the Associated Press’s reporting.