MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A look at some of the key figures in the case of Tony Robinson Jr., the biracial 19-year-old who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Madison in March. The shooting came amid a string of incidents around the country over the last year involving white officers killing black men, adding to growing tension and distrust between the black community and police. A prosecutor announced on Tuesday that no charges would be filed against the officer.
TONY ROBINSON JR.
Tony Robinson Jr. graduated from Sun Prairie High School last year. The son of a white mother and black father, Robinson stood 6-foot-4 and loved to play football. According to his mother, Andrea Irwin, he was preparing to try out for a semi-pro team.
He was arrested in April 2014 in connection with an armed robbery and ultimately sentenced to probation. A presentence report described Robinson as an impulsive risk-taker who faced a choice between the gang world and a middle-class lifestyle.
Police said they received calls on March 6 that Robinson had assaulted two people and was running in traffic. Madison Officer Matt Kenny found Robinson in an apartment house and opened fire after Robinson attacked him, police said. Robinson was unarmed.
Irwin has said her son made mistakes like any other teenager.
OFFICER MATT KENNY
Kenny, 45, has worked as a Madison police officer for 13 years, according to his personnel file. The file includes 46 accolades, mostly from supervisors who commended him for saving lives and relied on him to train recruits and peers in first-aid and firearms. The file includes one reprimand for accidentally leaving his gun in a public bathroom in 2007.
He earned the Medal of Valor after he shot and killed 48-year-old Ronald Brandon in 2007. Brandon was standing on his porch waving a realistic-looking pellet gun at officers in what police described as a “suicide-by-cop” attempt.
Police Chief Mike Koval has described Kenny, who also served as a U.S. Coast Guard medic, as a consummate professional.
POLICE CHIEF MIKE KOVAL
Koval holds a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he dressed up as Bucky Badger during football, basketball and hockey games for three years. He also holds a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. He served as an FBI agent and a recruiting sergeant for the Madison Police Department before he became chief in 2014.
He struck a conciliatory tone immediately after Robinson’s death, hoping to avoid the riots that shook Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of a police shooting there last year. Hours after Robinson was killed, he prayed with Robinson’s grandmother in the family’s driveway.
His tone shifted, though, as Young, Gifted and Black — the group leading protests over Robinson’s death — mounted repeated street protests. He wrote on his blog that officers have shown poise and restraint during the protests and called Kenny a “caring, conscientious individual.”
DANE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY ISMAEL OZANNE
Ozanne, who is biracial but identifies as black, began his career as an assistant Dane County district attorney in 1998. A decade later, then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, picked him to help lead the state Department of Corrections, where he helped implement Doyle’s early release program. Two years later Doyle named him district attorney in Dane County. He won election in 2012, running on promises to reduce racial disparities.
He launched a bid for attorney general last year but failed to win the Democratic primary.
Ozanne is the son of a white father and a black mother who participated in the Freedom Summer black voter registration effort Mississippi in 1964.
The district attorney stressed his own racial background before announcing his decision not to prosecute Kenny, and said he “understands the pain of unjustified profiling.”
YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK COALITION
The coalition has been leading protests against what its leaders consider state violence against black people since last year, railing against police in Ferguson, Missouri, for killing Michael Brown and demanding Dane County officials drop their jail renovation plans, end solitary confinement and release 350 black inmates. They also want police to stay out of black neighborhoods.
Now the group wants to see Kenny fired and charged with homicide. They’ve demanded the United Nations investigate Robinson’s death, saying Ozanne is part of a corrupt criminal system that targets blacks.
The coalition’s tactics center on marching in downtown streets and disrupting traffic during the evening rush hour. Officers arrested a number of protesters last month after they blocked one of Madison’s thoroughfares for eight hours.
The group plans to rally Wednesday morning outside the apartment house where Robinson died. Organizers want people to leave work and school and join them for what they’re calling “Black-Out Wednesday,” the kickoff to the “Black Spring,” a national black liberation movement.
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