Tony Robinson, Jr., Funeral Draws Hundreds In Wisconsin

03/14/2015 06:48 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2015

(Updates with details from funeral)

By Ben Brewer

MADISON, Wisc., March 14 (Reuters) - Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday for the funeral of a 19-year-old man killed by a police officer in Wisconsin's capital on March 6, a shooting that prompted protests over law enforcement's treatment of minorities.

Tony Robinson Jr., a biracial young man, was unarmed during a confrontation with a white police officer in Madison, and his death was the latest in a string of shootings of unarmed black and Latino men that has sparked a national debate over race and police tactics that has reached President Barack Obama.

About 1,600 people descended on a Madison-area high school field house to remember Tony Robinson, also known as Terrell, with overflow crowds directed to the school gymnasium where a screen was showing the funeral service.

Robinson's friends and family were joined by somber residents who traveled from around the state to pay their respects, as well as political leaders including Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Mark Pocan.

Rev. David Hart told mourners that Robinson was another young black male who lost his life too soon.

"Too many of our children are dying before their time," he said. "We must not accept that narrative that has become all too common."

Before the funeral, Robinson's family asked that those who attend leave their social and political concerns at the door.

"We want this to be about a celebration of Terrell/Tony's life and not necessarily about the issues it raises," Robinson's uncle, Turin Cater, said in a statement to Milwaukee Fox affiliate WITI.

There have been large, peaceful protests in Madison, with activists saying the shooting highlights a longstanding trend of racial bias among law enforcement in the city. The protests have drawn up to 2,000 people and echoed chants and slogans from "Black Lives Matter" demonstrations over police-involved deaths in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and Cleveland.

Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny said Robinson attacked him as he responded to a call about a man who had assaulted several people.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice expects to turn over reports of its investigation to the Dane County district attorney in about two weeks. The prosecutor will decide whether Kenny should face charges.

A preliminary autopsy report released Friday said Robinson died from "firearm related trauma," and was struck in the head, torso and arm. The medical examiner did not disclose how many times he was shot. (Writing by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Grant McCool and Marguerita Choy)

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