Tag Archives: police shooting

Dane County DA to announce decision in shooting by policeman

A Dane County prosecutor said he will announce on May 12 whether charges will be filed against a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 19-year-old biracial man in Madison.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne had promised to give the public advance notice of the announcement in the case of Madison Officer Matt Kenny, who shot 19-year-old Tony Robinson in an apartment on March 6. Ozanne issued a brief statement on the weekend saying he would make his findings public on May 12.

Police have said Kenny was responding to reports that Robinson had assaulted two people and was running in traffic. Investigators said Robinson attacked Kenny but other details haven’t been released.

Racial tension between police and minorities has been running high in several U.S. cities, most recently in Baltimore, where riots erupted after the funeral for Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. Other high-profile cases of officers killing unarmed black residents include the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York City; Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee.

Six officers involved in Gray’s death have been charged, as has the officer who killed Scott. Grand juries declined to charge the officers involved in Brown’s and Garner’s deaths.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice investigated Robinson’s death under a state law that requires an outside agency to lead probes into officer-involved shootings. Ozanne said he received the last investigative reports from the agency on April 13 and has been mulling a decision since then.

The shooting has sparked multiple street protests led by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition. The protests have been peaceful, although demonstrators have demanded Kenny be fired and charged with homicide. They also have said they don’t trust Ozanne, saying he’s part of a corrupt criminal justice system that targets blacks.

Police arrested at least four protesters in April after they blocked one of Madison’s main thoroughfares for eight hours.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, was in Israel on May 10. Asked if Walker plans to cut the trip short to be in Wisconsin when the decision is announced, Jocelyn Webster, a spokeswoman for Walker’s office, said in an email: “There have been peaceful demonstrations in the past and we expect that to be the case in the future. As always, Governor Walker is in regular contact with executive staff, regardless of his location.” 

Young, Gifted and Black statement issued …

The following statement was issued by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition:

Out of respect for Tony Robinson’s family, Young Gifted and Black will not hold an action tomorrow (May 12) after District Attorney Ismael Ozanne makes his announcement regarding whether officer Matt Kenny will be charged with the death of 19-year-old black teenager Tony Robinson. We call community members to use Tuesday to remember Tony and reflect on the complex ways state violence impacts Black lives. 

We will resume our actions on Black Out Wednesday, the first day of action in Black Spring, a national movement for Black Liberation. Black Spring recognizes the death of Tony as connected to the killings of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Mya Hall, Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Jones. It is a movement that recognizes the poverty, mass incarceration, evacuated education systems, and physical and mental health struggles that Black people face all as injuries incurred in the war against Black people across in America. The long winter is over. It is time to grow and move in to spring, demonstrating resistance and resilience against the assault on Black people in Madison and across the country. 

We ask workers, students, families, and community members who share our vision to stand up for Black lives as a part of this Black Spring movement, and Walk Out on Black Out Wednesday. More information on the events of Black Out Wednesday will be released. 

Rally at Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park this afternoon to mark one-year anniversary of Dontre Hamilton shooting

The Starbucks at Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park is closed today, and the surrounding area was quiet around noon except for arriving TV news vans and engineers setting up broadcast equipment.

But hundreds of people will gather at the site this afternoon to remember Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill and unarmed black man who was shot 14 times there by a white police officer exactly a year ago today.

MPD officer Christopher Manney lost his job over the killing but escaped criminal charges, setting off months of demonstrations in Milwaukee that were echoed last summer and fall in cities across America where unarmed black men were killed by police.

This year, the killings and protests have continued, with the most recent incident sparking riots in Baltimore.

Milwaukee’s Coalition for Justice is sponsoring a march and rally beginning at 5:30 p.m. today in Red Arrow Park “to honor the life of Dontre Hamilton,” according to a CFJ post on Facebook.

Dontre Hamilton’s brother Nate Hamilton said organizers are committed to keeping the gathering peaceful.

More than 1,000 attend tearful funeral for Tony Robinson in Madison

At least 1,000 people attended the funeral of Tony Robinson in Madison yesterday, where friends and family remembered him as a friendly, funny person who liked to play basketball. Many said they hoped his death would bring change that might prevent other young men of color from suffering the same fate.

The biracial Robinson, also known as Terrell, was 19 when he was shot and killed on March 6 after what Madison police described as a confrontation in which he assaulted veteran white police officer Matt Kenny, 45. A preliminary autopsy showed that Robinson was shot in his head, torso and right arm.

Although the autopsy report did not say whether Robinson was facing or turned away from Kenny, it acknowledged that he died from “firearm related trauma.” The medical examiner didn’t say when a final report would be released, but did say the results of toxicology tests aren’t expected for several weeks.

The shooting incident occurred after Kenny responded to a call complaining that a young man had assaulted someone and was jumping in and out of traffic. According to a police report, Kenny heard a disturbance and forced his way into an apartment where Robinson had gone in the city’s Willy Street area. The report said Kenny fired after Robinson assaulted him.

Robinson’s mourners packed a high school field house and spilled into a secondary gym for the funeral. The family of the deceased had requested no outward signs of protest, and people who brought signs were politely told to put them away. A few mourners wore T-shirts saying “Black Lives Matter,” which has become the unofficial motto of demonstrations against police shootings of African Americans.

The Rev. David Hart, who led the memorial, said, “It’s up to us to support Terrell’s vision of immortality … through our commitment to ensure that another senseless and violent murder like this doesn’t happen.”

Mourners applauded several times. They stood and raised their fists after Robinson’s grandmother spoke. But otherwise, the mood was somber. Ushers handed out tissues to the tearful crowd.

Robinson’s aunt, Lorien Carter, read a poem she wrote for the service. “He is our own martyr, who dwells forever in our lives,” she read.

Johanna Valdez, who attended the funeral, said she used to play one-on-one basketball with Robinson after school and remembered him as goofy and fun.

“He was always listening if you needed someone to talk to,” said Valdez, who went to Sun Prairie High School where Robinson graduated.

Disparities

Robinson’s death was the latest in a string of police shootings of unarmed black men since last summer that have sparked numerous protests throughout the nation. Thousands have joined in peaceful rallies and demonstrations in Madison, but protests have turned violent in other cities, particularly in Ferguson, Missouri, where unarmed black teen Michael Brown was gunned down by ex-officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. Just last week, two policemen were injured from gunfire during one of the demonstrations that have continued for months in front of the Ferguson Police Department.

From the beginning, Madison police tried to strike a more conciliatory tone than their counterparts in Ferguson had done. Police Chief Mike Koval rushed to the home of Robinson’s family on the night of the killing and prayed with his grandmother in the driveway. He said he understood the community’s anger and emphasized the right of protesters to march peacefully.

But some people at the funeral said they thought the shooting was an overreaction by police.

“What I personally don’t understand is why they have to resort to shooting first,” Valdez said.

While the Madison protests have been peaceful, they’ve also exposed racial disparities in the state’s most liberal city. Only about 7 percent of the city’s 240,000 population is black, and demonstrators have complained about unequal policing in poor, black neighborhoods.

An open letter on the subject, signed by nearly 90 Madison religious leaders,  was released Friday. It said, in part: “Tony’s death has laid bare the truth that our social contract does not provide the same benefit for all members of our community; and that our policies, practices, and attitudes stack the deck against and criminalize black- and brown-skinned members of our community at an alarmingly disparate rate.”

Members of the local school and county boards and the City Council said in a separate letter released Friday that the community “must do better” at ending “shameful” racial disparities.

Attorney General Brad Schimel has declined to go into any details about the shooting, saying releasing information in bits has caused turmoil in other racially charged officer-involved shootings in the U.S. over the last year. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the shooting under a state law that requires an outside agency to look into any fatal police shootings.

Schimel has said he hopes to have the bulk of that investigation done and submitted to the local district attorney in two weeks.

Division administrator Dave Matthews asked people to be patient, stressing that the investigation is massive. Authorities have said they’re looking at what every witness was doing in the hours leading up the shooting.

Kenny wasn’t wearing a body camera, but agents are examining video recordings from squad cars that arrived after the shooting and from devices people were carrying, he said. Matthews called the time it will take to review all the recordings “daunting.”

Dane County Executive Parisi statement on death of Tony Robinson

My prayers are with Tony Robinson’s family.

As we mourn the loss of a young man’s life and recognize the inequities that exist within our community and our nation — disparities in employment, education, and the criminal justice system, we must vigorously focus our efforts to insure that every resident of our community has access to all our community has to offer- the opportunity to succeed. 

Every member of our community has a role to play in the solution, and as we move forward, we must do so with renewed vigor on behalf of all young people in our community who want and deserve a fair chance to succeed and thrive.”

Hundreds at funeral for teen girl killed by Denver police

Hundreds of friends and relatives gathered on the weekend to say goodbye to a 17-year-old girl shot to death by Denver police officers. She was remembered for her big heart and gregarious spirit.

Mourners filled the pews at the funeral for Jessica Hernandez at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Westminster, in the suburbs north of Denver where she grew up. The Mass was held in Spanish, with English translation for the crowd that spilled beyond the church’s doors.

The Rev. Richard Nakvasil remembered Hernandez as a devoted sister to her five siblings and as an empathetic teenager who tried to help the homeless. But he relied mostly on her own words, reading a poem she wrote in which she tried to summarize her complicated nature.

“I seem to be a fighter, someone who doesn’t like connections,” Nakvasil read, speaking into a microphone so those standing in the back could hear. “It seems I don’t want peace. But really I am outgoing … But really I do want peace. Where there is no violence. I really don’t want to fight.”

Police have said Hernandez was shot Jan. 26 after she drove a stolen car toward an officer in a residential alley in Denver. Police Chief Robert White has said officers repeatedly told her and four other teens to get out of the car before two officers opened fire. A passenger in the car has disputed the police account, saying Hernandez lost control of the vehicle because she had already been shot and was unconscious.

The shooting, which remains under investigation, sparked protests and came amid an ongoing national debate about police use of force fueled by racially charged episodes in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Hernandez’s family and others have called for an outside prosecutor to investigate what happened.

But even as questions swirled about her death, Hernandez’s life was in focus on Feb. 7.

Her friends wore red sweat shirts emblazoned with a picture of her wide smile. Cars in the parking lot had “Justice for Jessie” scrawled on their windshields.

Nakvasil said he understood that for many in the crowd, grief was compounded by questions about Hernandez’s death.

Angel Rodriguez, 15, one of Hernandez’s former schoolmates, said he couldn’t make sense of the shooting, which left his friends puzzled and angry.

“We don’t want people to use a very sad incident like this to do something violent,” said Cisco Gallardo, program director for Denver’s Gang Rescue and Support Project.

The group’s staffers were on hand at the request of Hernandez’s family, but she was not involved with the organization, which tries to keep young people from joining gangs, he said.

“Any death puts your life in perspective, and for some young people it pulls them down. We don’t want kids to blow it out of proportion,” Gallardo said.

Many of those in attendance at the funderal had never met Hernandez but came to support her family. Hernandez was a lesbian, and her case has garnered additional attention from LGBT civil rights activists.

“When we see Jessie’s face, that’s like looking in the mirror,” Miriam “Mimi” Madrid Puga said. “It’s tragic we’ll never see that smile again. But her spirit will live on.”

Amnesty report documents human rights concerns in Ferguson

Amnesty International has released On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson, which documents the human rights concerns witnessed first-hand by observers while in Ferguson Aug. 14-22. The report also outlines a series of recommendations that need to be implemented with regard to the use of force by law enforcement officers and the policing of protests.

Amnesty released the report in advance of its Midwest conference, which is taking place in St. Louis this weekend.

In August, after the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Amnesty dispatched a human rights delegation to monitor protests and the police response.

“What Amnesty International witnessed in Missouri on the ground this summer underscored that human rights abuses do not just happen across borders and oceans,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “No matter where you live in the world, everyone is entitled to the same basic rights as a human being — and one of those rights is the freedom to peacefully protest. Standing on W. Florissant Avenue with my colleagues, I saw a police force, armed to the teeth, with military-grade weapons. I saw a crowd that included the elderly and young children fighting the effects of tear gas. There must be accountability and systemic change that follows this excessive force.”

What happened between Michael Brown and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson remains uncertain, due to conflicting reports. Brown was unarmed and as such it calls into question whether the use of lethal force was justified. Amnesty’s report urges the Missouri Legislature to amend the statute that authorizes the use of lethal force to ensure that the use of lethal force by law enforcement would be limited to those instances in which it is necessary to protect life.

The report also details the impact of city, county and state law enforcement and officials’ responses on the rights of individuals in Ferguson to participate in peaceful protest.

Amnesty International documented a number of restrictions placed on protestors, including the imposition of curfews, designated protest areas and a “five-second” keep walking rule. Intimidation of protesters is also included in the report, which details the use of heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons as well as questionable protest dispersal practices, including the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and long range acoustic devices.

“This is about accountability,” Hawkins said in a news release. “The events in Ferguson sparked a much-needed and long-overdue conversation on race and policing in America. That conversation cannot stop. In order to restore justice to Ferguson, and every community afflicted by police brutality, we must both document the injustices committed and fight to prevent them from happening again. There is a path forward, but it requires substantive actions on the local, state and federal levels.”

The mistreatment of journalists and observers is another area of focus highlighted in the report. At least 19 journalists and members of the media were arrested by law enforcement while others were subjected to tear gas and the use of rubber bullets.

In the report, Amnesty renewed its recommendation that the Department of Justice conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the death of Michael Brown, implement a DOJ-led review of police tactics and practices nationwide and release nationwide data on police shootings.

The report calls for Congress to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.

ACLU of Wisconsin seeks more information in officer-involved shooting in Racine

A letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin to Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling seeks more information in the death of a mentally ill man shot and killed by Racine police on July 6.

A letter from Racine County District Attorney W. Richard Chiapete has commended the city of Racine Police Department and thanked the sheriff’s office for the handling of the investigation into the death of 37-year-old Rajko Utvic.

The determination was that Utvic “bears total culpability for this deadly force confrontation.” Chiapete wrote in his finding, “Mr. Utvic left officers with no other alternatives.”

ACLU of Wisconsin executive director Chris Ahmuty said the organization wants to know more. “The ACLU of Wisconsin believes the public deserves to know more before putting all the blame on an individual suffering from mental illness,” Ahmuty said in a news release. “District Attorney Chiapete’s letter to Racine Police Chief Howell does not sufficiently address this incident.”

Ahmuty wants to know whether any of the officers on the scene had undergone crisis intervention training? And asked, why didn’t the officers just step back to deescalate the situation?

In his letter to the sheriff, Ahmuty asked for a copy of the office’s report, which under state law must be released to the district attorney.

The Wisconsin Legislature in April adopted a law requiring that an independent investigator lead an investigation into officer-involved deaths.

The new law follows a number of officer-involved deaths in Wisconsin, including deaths in Kenosha, Madison and Milwaukee, according to the ACLU.

Only pot found in system of ‘Miami zombie’

The face-eating man now referred to as the “Miami zombie” only had marijuana in his system, according to a Florida medical examiner’s final report.

The man, Rudy Eugene, 31, was shot and killed May 26 by a police officer as he attacked another man on a Miami causeway. Eugene could be seen in surveillance video naked, chewing on 65-year-old Ronald Poppo’s face.

Speculation circulated worldwide on the Web that Eugene was under the influence of a street drug known as bath salts, which has been linked to psychotic behavior.

But the medical examiner’s office said tests – including an outside forensic examination – did not find evidence of any street drugs other than marijuana, prescription drugs or alcohol.

Authorities have not released a motive for the attack.

Poppo remains hospitalized after several surgeries.

Poppo has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized.

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