A vote was halted by Madison alders Tuesday on whether the city will reimburse the Madison police chief for nearly $22,000 in legal fees racked up in a case filed against him after calling a family member of Tony Robinson—a teen fatally shot by an officer in 2015—a “raging lunatic.”
Sharon Irwin, Robinson’s grandmother, and her friend Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores filed a complaint last year against Madison Police Department Chief Mike Koval for the name-calling incident, as well as for allegedly making a gesture toward his sidearm after a summer city council meeting.
The Police and Fire Commission reached a decision last month that Koval violated the department’s Code of Conduct, but he was not disciplined.
Council members decided to refer the vote on Koval’s reimbursement to a later date, after determining the city’s Police and Fire Commission's response to the case was unclear. Members said they would like further clarification on any punishments the PFC could have imposed on Koval, as well as certain language used in the proceedings.
“Within one document, there are three very different responses from that board. In order for us to be transparent in what we are voting on, I am absolutely supporting sending it back to the PFC for clarification,” Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, District 1, said. “In their document, it sounds like they passed the buck and expected us to jump on it.”
Although many alders supported the referral, others including Ald. Mark Clear, District 19, claimed that the council is unlikely to get a response from the PFC.
“I think that we are unlikely to get any further clarification without requesting of the PFC formally to take it up again,” said Clear. “As painful as this conversation might be, I think we have to [vote] tonight.”
Irwin emphasized the need for repercussions for those in violation of protocol.
“There are great police officers here. I have a lot of respect for all of them who choose to walk the path that says: ‘I chose this because I want to help,’” Irwin said, “But in saying so, if you do not follow the protocol, you get written up. I am coming again, again and again until this is resolved.”
Along with voting to refer the vote to a later date, council members voted to include an amendment to the referral asking the PFC to respond to the council’s concerns by April 28.
Koval’s legal fees would cost the city $21,953. The council will reconsider the issue May 2.