MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A white Wisconsin police officer was cleared Wednesday of wrongdoing by an internal investigation of his fatal shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old biracial man, a move that clears the way for him to get his job back and that follows prosecutors declining to file charges against him.
The Madison Police Department issued a summary of its finding that Officer Matt Kenny did not violate its deadly force policies in the March 6 shooting death of 19-year-old Tony Robinson. Conclusion of the internal decision comes one month after Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne decided not to charge Kenny in the case.
The exoneration clears the way for Kenny, who had been on paid leave since the shooting, to return to the police department.
"He's looking forward to working to getting back and doing the job he loves," said Kenny's attorney Jim Palmer, who is also executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.
A summary of the investigation does not reveal any details about how the police department reached its conclusion.
Kenny is reviewing the internal investigation report, as is allowed under the law, and will allow the police department to release it as early as Thursday, Palmer said.
A call to the home of Robinson's mother rang unanswered Wednesday.
Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said Chief Mike Koval would answer questions about the investigation later Wednesday.
Kenny shot and killed Robinson in an apartment house stairwell after Robinson, who was high on hallucinogenic mushrooms and had accosted others that night, struck the officer in the head.
Kenny had responded to 911 calls and found the apartment house door open. He heard what he believed to be a disturbance in the upstairs apartment and thought someone was being attacked, he told investigators.
He drew his firearm and began to climb the stairs. He was near the top when he announced himself as a police officer. Robinson appeared and punched him in the head, he said.
Kenny said he was worried Robinson would knock him down the stairs, take his gun, shoot him and kill whoever was in the apartment so he opened fire, hitting Robinson seven times. Kenny told an investigator he couldn't use nonlethal force because of "space and time considerations."
Protests in the wake of the shooting, and Ozanne's decision not to criminally charge Kenny, have all been peaceful, unlike some of the demonstrations that followed the high-profile deaths of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore in the past year.
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(Photo: Madison Police Department/Wisconsin Department of Corrections via AP Photo)
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