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$3.3M settlement for family Tony Robinson, killed by Madison police officer; largest in WI history

MADISON — Relatives of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was fatally shot by a police officer will receive $3.35 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in Wisconsin, attorneys announced on Thursday, February 23rd.

Robinson was shot and killed by Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny in 2015. The shooting sparked protests throughout the city and calls for an examination of police use of force.

Robinson's attorneys said the deal was the largest police shooting settlement in Wisconsin history. Attorney David Owens called it vindication for parents still grieving the loss of their oldest son.

"If you could bring their son back, would they give all the money back? Absolutely," Owens said.

Justice for Tony Robinson

CLICK HERE to read the response from Madison Professional Police Officers Assoc.

CLICK HERE to read the response from Wisconsin Professional Police Assoc.

City attorney Mike May said the city did not have an immediate comment but might make a statement later.

Kenny's attorney, Jim Palmer, said the settlement was nothing more than a business decision to avoid the costs of trial.

"The Robinson family has made a number of outrageous claims that will now never be resolved," Palmer said. "The settlement serves to further cast a pall over Matt's reputation and his service to the community."

Tony Robinson National Day of Action rally

Tony Robinson National Day of Action rally

Kenny shot and killed Robinson in an apartment house after responding to calls about Robinson behaving erratically. Kenny said he entered the house to investigate sounds of a disturbance, and Robinson started punching him. Kenny's attorney said Kenny suffered a concussion, but Owens disputes this.

"There is no way in the universe that this happened the way Matt said it did," Owens said. "We did the investigation that the city of Madison refused to do. They wouldn't have paid a dime if they thought they were going to win a trial."

An autopsy showed Robinson had traces of drugs in his system, including hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Kenny, who fired seven shots, was later cleared of criminal wrongdoing and an internal investigation found he acted within police policies. District Attorney Ishmael Ozanne declined to charge him.

Kenny now works with the department's training program and horse-mounted patrol unit often used to control crowds. Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said though Kenny has earned the right to return to active patrol, there are no plans for him to do so.

Tony Robinson

Tony Robinson

Koval said the settlement has a "chilling effect" on the police department's reputation, even though it does not include any admission of wrongdoing and has nothing to do with the facts of the case.

"Reasonable people can infer that if the cops had done nothing wrong, why in the world would they have settled for such an astronomical amount?" he said. "But we're not going to be defined by this settlement. That's just not how we roll."

The shooting came less than a year after an officer killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and amid heightened scrutiny nationwide of police shootings, especially of young black men.

18 comments

  • polymorph

    How did they get any money, they should have been counter sued for a frivolous lawsuit. The cop was cleared. Appeal this and they won’t get a cent.

  • purelogic

    This young man was high on flacka and that poor police officer had to enter a dwelling that was not secure , his friends were afraid of him also . This was a horrible thing to have happened but in NO WAY should this family receive this settlement . I’m from the area and there was a lot of coverage of this incident .

  • Thomas Paine

    Absolutely ridiculous and disgusting. Why is the media obsessed with using pictures of criminals in cap and gown? Remember the guy in Ferguson? Same damn picture. This is a false narrative.

  • mark

    This is bad on every level. 1st, it was a justified shooting, so why all of a sudden should these people gain from their kid breaking the law and attacking an officer? secondly, every family out there that has punk kids that get put in line by cops will be clamoring for their own payout. Disgusting.

  • Lawandorder

    This is a slap in the face of all law enforcement officers out their doing their job and get home to their families. No child should ever be in this situation because bad parenting, money will buy them nothing but grief and the those who awarded the money should be ashamed.

  • Daniel W.

    This just confirms the notion that crime does in fact pay, in the millions. No point now in following the law fellas. Do crime, not only do you get rewarded in what you steal, the city will also give you millions for doing it. I, for one, will no longer be a law abiding citizen when i can make millions forcing a public servants to make it for me.

  • Madistonian vultures

    The city slapped the faces of all law enforcement in this country. Well, at least one could sit back and watch the Madison liberals squirm for the next 8 years after they lost the election. Their liberal platform was dismantled after it blew a gasket on election night and fell to the floor in a heap of twisted garbage.

  • Matt

    Like the parents even cared for their son in the first place. I doubt they were even together. I like the cap and gown pic trying to portray him as a good man. The lawyer played the black card on this all the way to the bank. So now us taxpayers have to pay out to them for a shooting that was JUSTIFIED. They get more money than I will make in my lifetime because their son was a criminal. And they say crime doesn’t pay! All this does is encourage others to follow in his footsteps hoping for a payout as well (anyone black that is). Even going as far to making up something just to get paid! Yeah, now they can get their stupid Escalade with big rims and be broke in less than 3 years.

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