Almost two years have passed since Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny fatally shot 19-year-old Tony Robinson Jr., and today the late teen’s family announced it is taking a $3.35 million settlement — the largest in state history for a case like this.

Family and friends of Robinson gathered with attorneys today at the state Capitol to address the community and media regarding the family’s civil rights case.

Tony Robinson’s family reaches record $3.35 million settlement for fatal shootingNearly two years after the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, his family has finally settled a $3.35 million federal Read…

According to Loevy & Loevy, the firm that represented Robinson’s family, the settlement is $1 million more than the previous record-setting settlement in the state for a police officer-involved shooting lawsuit.

Anand Swaminathan, one of the attorneys representing Robinson’s family in the case, said the settlement gives Robinson’s family vindication that the city was wrong in their case. But this doesn’t fill the void the family feels from the loss, Swaminathan said.

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“The city would not have dared to pay that sum of money if they didn’t know that they were going to lose that trial,” Swaminathan said.

For Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, this money does not matter. She wanted the case to go to trial, but did not wish to put her children through the process.

Tony Robinson’s mother, Andrea, hands the microphone back to their attorney after talking about her son.
Riley Steinbrenner/The Badger Herald

Robinson was a brother, son, grandson and nephew and ultimately, a human being, Irwin said. Irwin said Robinson, who had reportedly consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms before the fatal shooting, doesn’t deserve harsh public criticism.

“My son deserves some form of peace,” Irwin said. “He’s gone and we don’t need to hear how much of a disgusting human being you guys think he is, and it’s not fair.”

Swaminathan commended the city’s decision to resolve the case rather than make the family relive the trauma of Robinson’s death with a trial. The city has also made policy changes regarding backup in policing situations, which will hopefully save lives, he said.

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But Swaminathan said the public still doesn’t know the truth about what happened on the night of Robinson’s death. He said Kenny’s story was “demonstrably false” during the city’s investigative process, showing a broken investigative process.

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Dan Frei, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, said in a statement the trial in this lawsuit would be Kenny’s time to confront the allegations made against him. Now that the city’s insurance company decided to pursue a settlement, Kenny will never be able to receive that chance.

Mayor Paul Soglin said the city of Madison had no influence on the settlement since it was recently dropped as a defendant from the lawsuit.

This settlement undermines Kenny’s service to the department, Frei said in the statement. It will also bring down morale at the department, he said.

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The case’s conclusion leaves the public and all local governments still struggling to understand how police officers are to proceed in dangerous situations when substance-impaired individuals or individuals with mental health issues confront them, Soglin said.

But moving forward, Soglin holds faith the city of Madison, its police department and its residents will continue to find solutions.

“I do not suggest that we forget this event but I do recommend that we learn from the settlement and move forward to build a stronger, better community,” Soglin said.

Tony Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin, hugs her grandson — Robinson’s younger brother — Malik, 15.
Riley Steinbrenner/The Badger Herald