The Madison police officer who shot 19-year-old Tony Robinson was part of an officer-involved shooting in 2007, Madison Police Department Chief Mike Koval said in a news conference Saturday.
Koval listed the officer as Matt Kenny, a 45-year-old who has spent almost 13 years with MPD. The death of Robinson, an African American who graduated from Sun Prairie High School, sparked protests in Madison last night that continued through the afternoon, with organizers meeting this morning to prepare their next steps.
Community organizers strategize next steps after last night’s officer involved shootingMembers and leaders of the Madison community gathered across the city Saturday to honor 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was shot and killed Read…
Koval said Robinson was unarmed, noting that MPD wanted to be “very transparent” about the matter.
Koval said Kenny had responded to a 2007 disturbance on Camden Road that he called a “suicide by cop.” Kenny received a commendation for his response to that incident, Koval said.
Koval asked the “community to wait patiently” as the state’s Department of Justice continues its investigation into Friday’s shooting, noting that MPD will stay out of the DOJ investigation to keep “their findings of fact untainted or untouched by” MPD.
But Koval said MPD will now more than ever continue engaging with the community and listening to their concerns.
“I made a trek out to the family,” Koval said. “I thought their needs should come first. … We definitely don’t want to be M.I.A., we don’t want to be missing in action now [at] the most critical time when the police has to stand up and take those questions and take that concern to heart.”
Protesters gather after MPD officer shoots, kills 19-year-old black manA Madison Police Department officer shot a 19-year-old black man Friday night, prompting more than 100 protesters to gather at Read…
Still, the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, which gathered Saturday morning to discuss their strategy, continued to raise concerns over structural problems in Madison’s police system.
M Adams, an organizer for the coalition, said Saturday morning that the group has “always understood [MPD] as violent toward the black community,” noting the high levels of incarcerations among African Americans in the area.
“We’re not surprised,” Adams said. “We’re not all of a sudden saying the police are bad, we think the same thing as we did last week. We knew this could happen based on the structural racism and disregard for human life based on policing here.”
In a statement, Attorney General Brad Schimel, who heads the state’s DOJ, offered condolences to Robinson’s family for the “heartbreak they must be feeling right now in the wake of this tragedy,” as well as Kenny since he must be “experiencing great trauma, as well.”
“They are all in my thoughts and prayers,” Schimel said. “The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation will conduct a thorough, professional and transparent investigation into this incident.”
Schimel said DOJ agents have been working on the investigation since they heard about the shooting yesterday and encouraged people with any information, images or video to call the DOJ’s Department of Criminal Investigation at 608-266-1671.
Koval said after DOJ wraps up its investigation, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne will review the findings, saying that there will be “not one but two independent entities reviewing the work that was or was not done.”
Kenny is currently working with his “peer support network,” which MPD activates when an officer is part of a critical incident, Koval said. Kenny will not have contact with the community and is on paid administrative leave.
“Nobody gets into my line of work hoping that you will ever, ever have to take the life of another,” Koval said.
Koval added that Kenny’s situation can’t compare with the Robinson family’s, noting that the loss of their 19-year-old is “in fact the direst of the most dire” of situations.
According to the MPD website, Kenny is part of the department’s mounted patrol and had served for nine years in the United States Coast Guard. Kenny was also the officer in a viral photo during last summer’s same-sex marriage ruling, when he brought a cake to those celebrating their weddings at the City County building.
The Madison community has continued to protest the incident throughout the day, starting at the Capitol building and walking toward the scene of the incident. Community organizers have planned events throughout the week. Koval asked demonstrators to channel their hurt in a way that is not destructive or violent– sentiments Robinson’s family has also echoed.
Police are not allowing protesters, friends and family to leave flowers at the house where Robinson was shot. MPD is mandated with keeping the scene untouched, Koval said.
Rachael Lallensack and Tara Golshan contributed to this story.
Correction: This previously misstated the victim’s name as Anthony. According to the coroner’s report, his name was Tony. The article has been updated to reflect the change.