MADISON (WITI) -- Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne on Tuesday, May 12th announced NO criminal charges would be filed against Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny in the officer-involved shooting that killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson.
19-year-old Robinson was shot and killed by Officer Kenny on March 6th.
In making his decision NOT to charge Officer Kenny in the shooting that killed Robinson, Ozanne said he met with several people, including Robinson's mother, Andrea Irwin, high school students whom he said expressed interest in justice, but are mistrusting of law enforcement and the criminal justice system, neighborhood watch groups, African-American leaders in Dane County, Dane County police chiefs and others.
"My decision will not bring Tony back. My decision will not end racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system. My decision is not based on emotion. Rather, this decision is based on the facts as they've been investigated and reported to me -- guided by rule of law and the oath I took to uphold the constitution of the United States and the state of Wisconsin. (To Tony Robinson's mother, Andrea Irwin), I am so sorry for your loss," Ozanne said.
Ozanne reviewed evidence in this case, including photos and video of the scene on March 6th, the initial response to 1125 Williamson Street on March 6th, and police reports -- including those from the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Madison Police Department, Medical Examiner's reports and an autopsy of Tony Robinson, Wisconsin Crime Lab reports, citizen interviews, EMT/firefighter interviews, interviews with Officer Kenny, gas station surveillance video (from the gas station across the street from 1125 Williamson Street), squad car video, officer recordings, radio communication, 911 calls and 814 pages of reports by the Madison Police Department.
Ozanne said there was one question he had to answer: Were criminal charges warranted in this case?
Ozanne said he took a look at the "known, undisputed" facts of the case to make his decision.
Three 911 calls came in within the five minutes prior to Officer Kenny's arrival at 1125 Williamson Street, Ozanne said.
The first 911 call came in at 6:28 from a friend of Tony Robinson and a resident at 1125 Williamson Street, who reported Robinson was "tweaking" -- chasing everyone, saying Robinson was being "really outrageous right now." The caller said he and his girlfriend were "scared." It was reported that it was not believed Robinson was armed. The caller said Robinson had "jumped in front of a car, but he didn't appear to be hurt."
The second 911 call came in at 6:31 p.m. The caller reported a man was attacking pedestrians and had punched the caller in the face. It happened across from the gas station on Williamson Street.
The third 911 call came in at 6:32 p.m. The caller was at the gas station across from the apartment home and reported Robinson was "acting kind of crazy." The caller reported Robinson had "tried to choke" the caller, and the caller said Robinson had tried to assault two people on the sidewalk. Robinson was reportedly roaming around, blocking traffic. He was then seen trying to break into 1125 Williamson Street.
These 911 callers were interviewed, and they confirmed the information from the 911 calls, Ozanne said.
Dispatchers conveyed the information from the 911 calls to Officer Kenny. Ozanne said Kenny was informed that there could be three possible victims, and that it was not believed that Robinson had any weapons. The information from the 911 callers was also sent to Officer Kenny's mobile data computer.
One 911 caller reportedly witnessed Robinson damaging apartment #2 at 1125 Williamson Street, and said Robinson was speaking to his father and others who were not present. The caller described Robinson's behavior as "aggressive" and "violent."
The 911 caller indicated he had left the apartment and locked the door behind him. He said he and his brother were the only ones with keys to apartment #2.
A follow-up investigation revealed damage to apartment #2 "much greater" than what the 911 caller had witnessed before he left. There was also damage to the right side of the stairwell -- near the eighth step. The staircase damage wasn't present when the 911 caller left the residence, Ozanne said.
Squad car video from Officer Kenny's squad car and a recording from another officer on scene showed Kenny walking up the driveway at 1125 Williamson Street, checking around the back corner before approaching the home. Kenny was observed speaking into the radio and reaching for his firearm before entering the home. Kenny was inside the home for about 20 seconds, according to Ozanne.
Video shows Officer Kenny reappearing -- exiting the residence in a backwards motion, appearing to nearly lose his balance. He was seen firing one shot while outside the home. Robinson's feet appear in the doorway after Kenny was seen exiting the home.
Ozanne said an audio recording from a responding officer captured seven shots fired in three seconds. All seven hit Robinson at "close range," from front to back. Seven casings were recovered at the scene. Ozanne said all shots had to have been fired at the bottom of the stairs.
Officer Kenny's statement indicated he heard "yelling and screaming" coming from apartment #2, and items being thrown or breaking. He heard someone say "what are you going to do (expletive), and believed Robinson may have been upstairs assaulting someone. He radioed dispatch that he was entering the home, and as he went in, he drew his firearm. As he climbed the stairs, Kenny said he yelled "Madison police," and heard someone say "well, the police are here."
That's when Kenny said Robinson turned the corner and struck Kenny with a closed fist on the left side of his head -- knocking him back and into the wall on his right. Kenny's report is consistent with damage to the drywall on the right side of the staircase near the eighth step. Kenny said Robinson continued to come toward him -- swinging at him. Kenny was rocked back and was losing his balance on the stairs. He worried that he would be struck again and lose consciousness or hit his head falling backwards. He worried his firearm would be taken and used to shoot him and anyone else who may have been in the home. He said there were two streams of fire -- one involving three shots, and the second involving two to three shots. He said he did not see anything in Robinson's hands or in his waistband. Kenny then radioed "shots fired," and requested an ambulance. He began rendering aid to Robinson before paramedics arrived and took over.
Reports from Robinson's friends indicated he had used controlled substances on March 6th -- including mushrooms, THC (marijuana) and xanax.
"I conclude that this tragic and unfortunate death was the result of the lawful use of deadly police force," Ozanne said Tuesday.
Wisconsin law now requires all officer-involved deaths be investigated by an outside agency. Dane County had a written policy prior to the passage of this law that required an outside agency investigate these deaths, and that agency is the Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation.
Tony Robinson had a criminal history. Wisconsin Circuit Court documents indicate Robinson pleaded guilty in December to an armed robbery that occurred last April.
As for Kenny, this isn't the first time he has used lethal force. In 2007, he shot and killed a man in what the police chief described as a "suicide by cop."
Kenny was exonerated of wrongdoing and received a commendation.
Following the shooting of Robinson, Kenny was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. He will remain on administrative leave until an internal investigation is complete.
"I hope to have it wrapped up in the next couple of weeks," Madison Police Chief Michael Koval said.
Chief Koval said he called Kenny and left him a voicemail message after learning Ozanne's decision not to file charges in Robinson's death. We're told Kenny did not speak with Ozanne Tuesday, and he did not watch Ozanne's news conference announcing his decision in this case.
"I'm sure an immense burden has been lifted from him as well and he can now, sometime in the future, return to the career he has a passion for," Chief Koval said.
Following Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne’s decision today to exonerate Madison Police Officer Matthew Kenny in the March 6 shooting of Tony Robinson, WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer, who is also the attorney for Officer Kenny, issued the following statement:
“We believe the district attorney’s decision today to exonerate Officer Matthew Kenny was appropriate. The exhaustive independent and transparent investigation into this tragic incident has confirmed that Officer Kenny’s actions on the night of March 6 were lawful and in response to a deadly threat, from which Officer Kenny sustained numerous injuries, including a concussion.
Despite this outcome, our hearts go out to Mr. Robinson’s family, and we appreciate the challenges and emotions that this incident has inspired. As a city, we must now come together to engage in a community-wide dialogue to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the people it serves, and to otherwise move forward in a way that protects all of our citizens and the officers that police our streets. Just as Wisconsin has been a pioneer in terms of enacting groundbreaking reforms to ensure that officer-related deaths are investigated in an independent manner, so too can Madison provide a path for the rest of the nation to follow by engaging in a public discourse that ensures that the voices of our community do not go unheard.”
The WPPA will be reviewing the detailed findings of the report and will be prepared to comment further as questions arise in the near future.”
Tony Robinson's mother told CNN's Anderson Cooper she was so outraged when she heard the announcement that she had to leave the room.
"I'm heartbroken and I'm angry," Andrea Irwin told Cooper. "I'm more than upset, almost something that I can't even describe right now."
Robinson's mother said her family "absolutely" plans to file a civil lawsuit against the Madison Police Department.
"The things that have taken place since my son passed and the things that have been done to my family, to me, they've gone above and beyond to try to make sure they kick me when I'm down. They have done a smear campaign against my child and against me since this all began," Irwin told Anderson Cooper.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. in Madison to discuss this case.