No charges for Madison police officer who shot 19-year-old Tony Robinson

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced there will be no charges against a white Madison police officer who shot and killed an unarmed, biracial 19-year-old.

"Violence never brings permanent peace," Ozanne said, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. as he ended the news conference.

Veteran officer Matt Kenny fatally shot 19-year-old Tony T. Robinson Jr. on Williamson Street in Madison's east side around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, sparking national attention and protests.

"They killed him and said it was okay," said Sharon Irwin, Robinson's grandmother while leaving the Dane County Sheriff's Office after the decision was announced. An attorney for the family said they are disappointed a jury wouldn't decide the case.

'My decision will not bring Tony Robinson back'

Ozanne provided details that had not yet been released in an afternoon news conference on Tuesday, just over 2 months after the shooting. He extended his condolences to Robinson's mother before recounting the case. He said he had met with his mother, high school students, a neighborhood watch group, leaders in the black community and Dane County police between the shooting and the announcement.
"These are all people who want the same thing, to feel safe," Ozanne said.

His decision, however, will not bring Tony Robinson back, he added.

"On March 6, 2015, a young man lost his life far too soon. Whether we are policing, teaching or parenting when we use violence to control, we do so at a tremendous cost to the person, to the community and ultimately to our humanity," Ozanne said in opening. "We must still remember he was a young man."

Tony was 'tweaking'

Kenny, 45, said he shot Robinson after he had been assaulted. Madison police said they were responding to a welfare check after Robinson was reported running into traffic, and additional calls indicated Robinson had assaulted two people, Ozanne said. Three calls were made in total. The caller and his girlfriend said they were scared, and added Tony was "tweaking," and "really outrageous right now." Another caller said a man had attacked him near a gas station, and the third said Robinson was "acting kind of crazy" and had tried to choke him. Toxicology reports indicated Robinson had taken mushrooms, Xanax and had marijuana in his system.

7 shots fired

Neighbors reported hearing what sounded like a fight, and someone forcing their way into the apartment. Officer Kenny said from outside the apartment, he heard someone say, "What are you going to do now, [expletive]" and thought Robinson may have been assaulting someone, hearing yelling and multiple "smacking" noises.

He announced his entrance into the apartment and said Robinson immediately hit him with a closed fist, knocking Kenny into a wall. Robinson came at him, and Kenny said he was afraid he'd be struck again, lose consciousness and have his firearm taken.

There were 7 shots fired, all of which hit Robinson from front to back, Ozanne said. All shots were fired within 3 seconds.
"He did not know how he got to the bottom of the stairs. He retreated five or six steps away from the door and yelled 'don't move,'" Ozanne said.

Kenny's statement said he rendered aid to Robinson until the paramedics arrived and took over.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval released the officer Kenny's name less than 24 hours after the shooting, adding, "There's no doubt that we have to be clear about this: He was unarmed."

March to the Capitol

While Robinson's death garnered national attention in the wake of other officer-involved shootings around the country, hundreds of demonstrators marched to the state Capitol, but the family has repeatedly urged demonstrators to remain peaceful, and they have. On Wednesday, some advocacy groups are calling for some type of action on Wednesday, in a movement called #BlackOutWednesday, its slogan "No school, no business, no justice, no peace."

When asked what he wanted the rest of the country to see, Robinson's uncle Turin Carter said this:

"I want them to see people fed up with how we are being treated and how are people are being killed. And actively trying to change the situation. And that's what we really need realize. We have the power to do so."

Police Chief: 'How will we choose to respond?'

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval released a statement following Tuesday's decision, which reads, in part:

"In the aftermath of this decision, our City finds itself at a crossroad. How will we--as community--choose to respond? Will the narratives portrayed elsewhere become our "moment" where Madison becomes another provocative story line marred with senseless acts of disorder which only serve to disrespect the rights and property of others? Or will we choose to take the higher road and show the nation that civic dissent and even acts of civil disobedience can co-exist with MPD officers who have consistently demonstrated respect for First Amendment rights and restraint in the exercise of their lawful authority?

We have the capacity to be a part of a "movement" rather than settle for a "moment." Months prior to the outset of this tragic event, an initiative was well underway through the facilitation of the United Way seeking more thoughtful, long-term approaches to police and citizen encounters. MPD and other law enforcement agencies have been consistently meeting with not-for-profits, clergy, leaders of color, MMSD, and members of City government to establish both a dialogue and a mechanism for exploring ways in which police can be more effective in promoting trust while also examining systems that may contribute to racial disparities in our criminal justice system." 

He also listed several examples of "commonly used city ordinance violations" during demonstrations, adding, "I would strongly urge complete avoidance of getting a RAP sheet (a record of arrests and/or prosecutions)!"


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