Reuters) – Demonstrators marched on Saturday to protest the police killing of a 19-year-old black man in Madison, Wisconsin, an incident that came amid growing scrutiny of U.S. law enforcement’s use of lethal force against minorities, the poor and mentally ill.
Chanting “the whole damn system is guilty as hell,” protesters walked from police headquarters in the state capital to the neighborhood where the apparently unarmed victim was shot by police Friday evening, according to social media.
At least 100 people took part in the peaceful protest, Madison police spokesman Officer David Dexheimer said.
The shooting occurred after a police officer responded to calls reporting that a man was dodging cars in traffic and had battered another person, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval told reporters.
The officer followed the suspect into an apartment, was struck in the head and shot the teen, who later died at a local hospital, Koval said. An initial search turned up no gun, but it was too soon to know if the victim had a weapon, Koval added.
Authorities declined to release the teen’s name, though the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper reported that his friends had identified him as Anthony “Tony” Robinson.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice will oversee the investigation into the shooting instead of local authorities, under a new law that was enacted last year.
Attorney General Brad Schimel offered his condolences to the victim’s family.
“As a parent, I can only imagine the heartbreak they must be feeling right now in the wake of this tragedy,” he said in a statement. “Likewise, I am concerned for the officer involved in this incident, who I imagine is experiencing great trauma, as well.”
State Representative Chris Taylor, who co-authored the bill requiring outside investigators under the direction of the state Department of Justice to probe shootings involving police, said on Facebook she was at a gas station in the area where the teen was shot and observed the events leading up to the shooting.
Last year, the deaths of two unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City triggered a wave of nationwide demonstrations against alleged excessive use of force by law enforcement.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Roche, James Dalgleish and Paul Simao)