The white Wisconsin police officer responsible for the shooting death of unarmed black 19-year-old Tony Robinson will not be charged in Robinson’s death.
“My decision will not bring Tony Robinson Jr. back,” Ozanne said. “My decision will not end the racial disparities that exist in the justice system, in our justice system. My decision is not based on emotion. Rather, this decision is based on the facts as they have been investigated and reported to me.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The District Attorney Said Kenny Shot Robinson After Being Punched in the Face
District Attorney Ismael Ozanne presented the basic facts of the case during a press conference and then announced that he has found Robinson’s death to be the result of a lawful use of force.
According to Ozanne, Officer Kenny fired seven shots at Robinson. Ozanne recounted for the first time Kenny’s statement to investigators during the press conference.
Kenny said he believed he heard Robinson possibly assaulting someone inside an apartment after entering the building, because he heard yelling and screaming inside. Robinson came around a corner and, after the officer had identified himself as police, struck Kenny in the face, Kenny told investigators. The punch knocked Kenny back into a wall and he then fired at Robinson, because he feared Robinson would hit him more and disarm him.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said at a previous news conference that Kenny responded to 911 calls reporting a “subject” who was “jumping in and out of traffic, dodging cars and the like.” that had been responsible for a battery. Koval said the first responding officer, later identified as Officer Matt Kenny, was called to an apartment where the subject had gone. When Kenny got to the apartment, he said he heard what sounded like a disturbance inside and forced entry.
Koval said once Kenny went inside the apartment, the victim “assaulted my officer and in the context of mutual combat, the officer did draw his revolver and subsequently shot the subject.”
Kenny began to give Robinson CPR and was joined in aiding him by backup officers, Koval told reporters. Robinson was taken to a local hospital, where he died.
Koval said Kenny had been knocked down by a blow to the head. Koval was asked by a reporter if the victim was armed, and responded, “At this time it is unknown what, if anything, he had at the scene in terms of instrumentality. Initial findings at the scene did not reflect a gun or anything like that at the scene.”
Police were called to the Williamson Street incident at about 6:30 p.m. Audio from police radio transmissions has been posted online.
In the audio, the dispatcher tells the responding officer that a teen named Tony Robinson was “outside yelling and jumping in between cars.” The dispatcher says “Tony hit one of his friends” and “no weapons” were seen.
About 2 minutes and 50 seconds after the initial call, one of the officers says he is in an upstairs apartment. At the 3:09 mark of the audio, the officer says “shots fired, shots fired.” An ambulance is then called to the scene.
2. Robinson’s Family Has Called For Peaceful Protests After the Decision
The District Attorney and Robinson’s family has called for any protests of the decision to be peaceful.
Some of Robinson’s friends and others gathered for a small protest outside the news conference.
The family’s attorney, Jon Loevy, said at a press conference that they have many questions about the decision and are reviewing the report on the incident. He said the family was hoping for a trial.
3. Robinson Was a Recent High School Graduate About to Attend College
Michael Johnson, president of the local Boys & Girls Club, said on Facebook that Robinson had recently graduated from high school and was set to attend a technical school. Johnson, who spoke with the family, said Robinson graduated from Sun Prarie High School and was headed to the Madison Area Technical College, where he wanted to get a business degree.
“He was loving and caring young man according to his grandmother,” Johnson said in the Facebook post.
But Robinson did have a criminal history. He pleaded guilty to armed robbery, a felony, in October 2014, according to state court records. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, which was stayed by the judge, and three years of probation. He was arrested along with four others in April 2014 after a home invasion in Madison, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Police said at the time that the group was seen entering an apartment, one armed with a shotgun. They stole electronics and other property.
Robinson’s social media use, including his Facebook page and Twitter account have been scrutinized after the shooting. And on Monday, the Associated Press reported court documents show Robinson suffered from ADHD, anxiety and depression. The documents claimed Robinson tended to be anti-social and a risk-taker, according to the AP,
Tony was also known by his middle name, Terrell, according to posts by his family. Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin, said on Facebook:
To u officer, who shot my unarmed grandson 5 times, who was running away from u while u were pulling out your gun and chasing him, where was your taser. I want u to know the young man u killed was gentle loving great kid. U took away the day he turned 35. U took away my great grandkids. This, what they call a wrongful death. This what I call murder.
Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin talked to WKOW and said, “My son has never been a violent person. And to die in such a violent, violent way, it baffles me.”
4. Kenny Has Been With the Department Since 2002
Kenny has been with the department since 2002, prior to which he was an active service officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for nine years, according to his profile on the Madison Police Department website
Kenny was taken to the hospital, but was not seriously injured. The police chief said a blood test was taken to determine the officer’s sobriety.
The shooting was investigated by an outside agency, the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation, per state law. Kenny was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
In 2014, Kenny gained a bit of media attention when he and two other officers delivered a cake for one of the state’s first same-sex marriages.
A Wisconsin District Court had halted a ban same-sex marriages, and happy couples got married in droves. Kenny was one of three officers who carried sheet cakes to the courthouse, and when a photo was snapped of the scene, it went viral.
5. He Killed Another Suspect in 2007 & Was Also Cleared of Wrongdoing in That Case
In July 2007, Kenny shot and killed Ronald Brandon, 48, after he pointed what turned out to be a pellet gun at officers.
At the time, Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard said the gun looked genuine, and Kenny was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing:
“We cannot know precisely what Mr. Brandon was thinking, but his pointing a very realistic-looking facsimile firearm at police effectively compelled officers to resort to deadly force.”