Technicalities within the new law requiring independent investigations of officer-involved shootings have raised concerns among the family of Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old who was shot and killed by Madison Police Department officer Matthew Kenny last month.
The family first voiced their concerns two weeks ago over communication about the investigation at a news conference at the Dane County Courthouse.
They pointed out inaccuracies in documents the MPD had released the week before and announced that, with the help of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, they would request an investigation of racial disparities by the United Nations.
The Robinson family is becoming well-acquainted with the fine print of the new Wisconsin law concerning officer-related deaths, Jerome Flowers, the family spokesperson, said in an email to The Badger Herald.
The law states that three person teams must investigate officer-involved deaths, and two of those three investigators have to be from outside of the department being investigated, Flowers said.
Additionally, the state Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, MPD, the District Attorney or medical examiner may determine what information will be made public, Flowers said.
“DCI, MPD, the medical examiner and the DA are all free to meet, exchange information, compare notes and corroborate the same narrative while at the same time keeping the family in the dark until after the DA makes his decision,” Flowers said.
Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County DA, is currently considering whether to bring charges against Kenny for Robinson’s death, after he received the DCI investigation’s findings.
But Joel DeSpain, MPD spokesperson, said the department is not involved in the Robinson investigation.
MPD will be receiving updates about the continuing investigation at the same time as the public, DeSpain said.
The family has also raised concerns about the release of documents and police phone calls relating to the Robinson family, Flowers said.
The documents MPD released described 21 police incidents that involved Tony Robinson, but the vast majority of these incidents actually involved Tony Robinson Sr., Flowers said.
These documents have been not only irrelevant and misleading, but have been “slanderous” of Tony Robinson’s Jr. character, Flowers said.
The justice system is simply unable to fairly investigate itself, Matthew Braunginn, a YGB member said.
“We have no faith in the investigation process and the law that holds our officers to a lower standard when it comes to protecting the community from violence,” Braunginn said.
YGB made similar claims regarding a lack of trust in the government at a news conference earlier this month.
MPD declined to comment on these claims because they were not in attendance, DeSpain said.
MPD has only provided the reports from the officers who arrived on the scene the night Tony Robinson was shot. Once the case became an officer-related shooting, the state’s Department of Justice took over, DeSpain said.
“Though there are some small groups that do not believe in the capability of MPD, this investigation will not define MPD,” DeSpain said. “There is still a majority of the community who believes in our ability to do a good job.”
YGB held a protest Tuesday blocking Washington Avenue during the National Day of Action Against Police Violence. Four adults were arrested, including YGB leader Brandi Grayson. Eleven others were cited and released, according to an MPD incident report.