MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A prosecutor is set to announce Tuesday whether a white police officer will face charges for killing a young unarmed biracial man in Madison. A few things to know about the case ahead of Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne’s decision:
Madison Police received calls on March 6 that 19-year-old Tony Robinson had assaulted two people and was running in traffic. According to police, Officer Matt Kenny heard a disturbance in an apartment house where Robinson had gone. Kenny forced his way in, Robinson attacked him in a stairwell and Kenny opened fire, police said. A preliminary autopsy showed Robinson was shot in his head, torso and right arm. Police have released almost no other details.
WHO WAS TONY ROBINSON?
Robinson, a 19-year-old Sun Prairie High School graduate, had been arrested in April 2014 for his role in an armed robbery. According to court documents, he was among a group of five people who robbed an apartment in search of money and marijuana. The group stole a TV and an Xbox 360 video game system. Robinson, the son of a white mother and black father, told investigators he was carrying a BB-gun pistol with him during the robbery.
He called his mother, Andrea Irwin, from jail and she told him not to tell the police anything. Robinson said he had already told them everything and he trusted the officers. Irwin told The Associated Press any parent would have told their child not to tell the police anything in such a situation.
He was sentenced to probation in December. A state Department of Corrections agent wrote in a pre-sentencing report that Robinson tended to be an impulsive risk-taker caught between a middle-class life and the gang world. He suffered from attention-deficit disorder, anxiety and depression, the report said.
Irwin called Robinson, who stood 6-foot-4, her “gentle giant.” She said he outgrew his attention-deficit disorder but made mistakes like any teenager.
WHO IS MATT KENNY?
Police records show Kenny, 45, is a 13-year veteran officer. His file contains 46 accolades, mostly from supervisors who commended him for saving lives and relied on him to train new officers and peers in first-aid and firearms. He received the Medal of Valor for using deadly force in 2007, when he shot and killed 48-year-old Ronald Brandon after Brandon stood on his porch brandishing a realistic-looking pellet gun at officers in an attempt to force them to kill him.
His file includes one reprimand letter for accidentally leaving his gun in a public bathroom in 2007. It contains no citizen complaints.
Kenny’s sister has said he also has served with the U.S. Coast Guard, sailing from the North Pole to Antarctica on an ice breaker. She said he rescued boaters and anglers with the Coast Guard.
Kenny wasn’t wearing a body camera.
The shooting has prompted a number of street protests in Madison over the last two months. The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition has led the demonstrations, calling for Kenny to be fired and charged with homicide. The protests have been peaceful, marked by marching in the streets with banners that read “Black Lives Matter” and chants of “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” High school students have skipped school to join in. Police arrested a number of protesters last month after they blocked a Madison thoroughfare for eight hours.
Ozanne is biracial and identifies as black, but Young Gifted and Black leaders have said they don’t expect him to charge Kenny because, according to the group, Ozanne is part of a corrupt criminal justice system that targets black men. The group’s spokeswoman, Brandi Grayson, has warned city leaders that Madison will “erupt” when all the facts emerge, raising fears that the city could face riots similar to what Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore went through in the wake of police killing black men in those cities over the last year.
Young, Gifted and Black plans to rally at the apartment house following Ozanne’s decision. The group’s leaders say they expect the gathering will be peaceful.
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