The family of a Madison, Wisconsin, police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man earlier this month on Thursday released a statement defending the officer and saying that they are "deeply saddened" by the killing.
Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny, a 12-year-police veteran, fatally shot Tony Terrell Robinson Jr., 19, after responding to reports that a man was jumping in and out of traffic and may have assaulted someone on March 6. The shooting of Robinson, who is half-black, by a white officer sparked protests.
"We are deeply saddened by his loss. We know he mattered, and we wish that this tragedy could have been avoided," Amanda Kenny said in a statement distributed by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. Her exact relationship to Matt Kenny wasn't clear.
"Madison, as a community, can do better for all its citizens. We must discuss, perhaps with more urgency, how our community handles racial inequality and then do something about it," the statement continued.
"And while we acknowledge that Madison has problems, we also feel that my brother is not one of them. Matthew is an exemplary officer who operates with the highest level of integrity, judgment, and restraint," the statement said.
The state Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting. Police have said Robinson entered an apartment, Kenny forced his way in after him, and the officer fired after he was attacked. An autopsy found that Robinson was shot in the head, torso and upper body.
Kenny previously served on the Coast Guard and in extensive travels has had "contact with people of all cultures and backgrounds," the family statement said.
Kenny, 45, was involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting in 2007, but police characterized it as "suicide by cop" and he was later cleared.