Unarmed + Black + Teen + Police Confrontation = Tony Robinson, 19, Killed By Officer in Wisconsin

By Shaun King

It's starting to feel a bit like deja vu. I've written this story before. A young unarmed African-American teenager is shot and killed by police in (you fill in the blank city/state). The equation is all too familiar. So much so that it is increasingly difficult, without consulting a written list, to recount by memory the many names of the victims of police violence in the past year.

Tony Robinson is the latest victim to be added to this list. Nineteen years old, Tony appears to have been shot and killed by police in his own home. No matter how we look at it, police in America are just far too quick to shoot and kill unarmed people—particularly African Americans. While the police chief of Madison has attempted to strike a compassionate and measured tone in response to this shooting, peaceful protests are growing in the city.

Within hours of a white officer shooting an unarmed black man, the police chief of Wisconsin's capital city was praying with the man's grandmother, hoping to strike a conciliatory tone and avoid the riots that last year rocked Ferguson, Missouri.

Chief Mike Koval said he knows Madison is being watched across the nation since 19-year-old Tony Robinson's death Friday evening, and he has gone out of his way to avoid what he once called Ferguson's "missteps."

While the tone of Madison Police Chief Koval is a welcome contrast to that of the police in and around Ferguson, Missouri, what people are crying out for is not just a change in post-murder tone, but a substantive change in how American police use lethal force. Police in small towns in the United States are killing more unarmed men and women than entire developed nations around the world with 100-200 times the population. This can't be the best work our nation can do.

Many questions remain in this case. Did Officer Matt Kenny, who shot and killed Tony, have a body camera? Did he sustain any injuries? How soon after the shooting did he file a report? Was it recorded? What are the details of the other shooting Kenny was involved with on the job previously?