Madison police officer Matthew Kenny will not be indicted for fatally shooting 19-year-old Tony Robinson, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced Tuesday.
The decision comes more than two months after Kenny shot and killed unarmed Robinson at an apartment on the 1100 block of Williamson Street March 6.
The state’s Department of Justice conducted the investigation on the officer-involved shooting and turned all findings over to Ozanne at the end of March.
Based on his investigation, which included interviews, video footage and 911 calls, Ozanne said Kenny will not face any charges. In a detailed account of the events leading up to Robinson’s death, Ozanne said seven shots were fired in a span of three seconds, all hitting Robinson at close range from front to back.
A University of Wisconsin graduate and the state’s first African American district attorney, Ozanne led his decision with background on himself and evidence from the case. He said he made his decision through the lens of a biracial Wisconsin man who is cognizant of racial disparities and equity issues in Dane County.
“My decision will not bring Tony Robinson back…my decision will not end the disparities that exist,” he said. “My decision is not based on emotion, rather this decision is based on the facts as they have been investigated and reported to me. This decision is guided by the rule of law and the oath I took to uphold the constitution.”
Ozanne said he holds himself to what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In citing what was used as evidence, Ozanne listed Department of Criminal Investigation reports, 814 pages of documentation released by MPD, medical examiner’s reports, Robinson’s autopsy, interviews with citizens, paramedics and police officers—including Kenny’s account, police squad car video, photos, video of the scene and three 911 calls.
Ozanne read a 911 call from one of Robinson’s friends, in which the caller tells the dispatcher that Robinson was “tweaking” and “acting outrageous.” The caller acknowledged that Robinson had taken “shrooms or some type of drugs.”
The toxicology report confirmed that Robinson had hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and Xanax in his system the night he died.
Tony Robinson’s death: a portrait of a life ended, a life halted, a community unitedSaturday morning, a team of three Madison police officers stood outside the house at 1125 Williamson Street on the Near Read…
Two more calls came in to MPD that night citing Robinson had been acting violently.
Kenny was the first officer at the scene.
After entering the apartment, Kenny said Robinson hit him in the face with a closed fist, causing Kenny to crash into a wall. Robinson continued to swing at Kenny as they moved toward the stairs. Kenny reported feeling disoriented and “feared for his life.”
Ozanne said it was reasonable to conclude Kenny fired shots from his position at the bottom of the stairs. Kenny has no recollection of how he got to the bottom of the stairs.
After Kenny had fired shots, he noted that Robinson’s hands and waistband were empty, confirming that Robinson was unarmed.
Law for independent investigations of officer-involved shootings put to test in Tony Robinson caseRep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, layed sideways in her car Friday night as she was within hearing distance of the multiple shots that Read…
Jon Loevy, the Robinson family’s spokesperson, said the family was disappointed the option to go to trial had been taken away from them. Loevy said the family encouraged the community to express their frustrations, but asked that protests remain peaceful.
— Hayley Sperling (@hksperl) May 12, 2015
Sharon Irwin, Robinson’s grandmother, said from the beginning her grandson was slandered.
“I will deal with this the rest of my life,” she said. “You guys go home and won’t deal with this anymore. This is a forever thing for me. This is politics and not justice.”
— Teymour Tomsyck (@Teymoreorless) May 12, 2015
Jim Palmer, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association executive director and Kenny’s attorney, said in a statement the district attorney’s decision to exonerate Kenny was appropriate.
Family of officer who shot Tony Robinson releases first public statementThe family of Madison Police Department officer Matt Kenny, who fatally shot Tony Robinson, expressed sadness over Robinson’s death and Read…
Kenny, a 12-year MPD veteran, has been on paid leave since Robinson’s death.
In a statement from MPD Chief Mike Koval responding to the DA’s decision, Kenny’s leave will extend until an internal policy review is conducted. Kenny added that MPD’s Professional Standards Unit’s independent investigation will not be completed for at least another week.
Since the incident, there have been multiple protests and community meetings led primarily by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition. Throughout their demonstrations, YGB asked Kenny be fired and charged with murder.
In a statement, YGB said they had not anticipated that justice would be served, but were still disappointed by Ozanne’s decision.
“Black people continue to be denied our human right to dignity and justice, even in death,” YGB member Alix Shabazz said in the statement.
Koval challenged Madison residents to be part of a greater impact with civil protests, rather than reacting with “senseless disorder” and disrespect of others’ rights and property.
“We have the capacity to be a part of a ‘movement’ rather than settle for a ‘moment,’” he said.
— Hayley Sperling (@hksperl) May 12, 2015
Ozanne echoed a similar sentiment as he concluded his statement, emphasizing that hatred and violence will not spur lasting change.
“I am reminded that true and lasting change does not come from violence, but from exercising our voices and our votes,” he said.
Hayley Sperling, Teymour Tomsyck and Briana Reilly contributed reporting.
Correction: This post previously misspelled Jon Loevy’s name. We regret this error.