Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced that Officer Matt Kenny will not face criminal charges for the death of 19-year-old Tony Robinson Jr. of Madison, Wisconsin.
Robinson, a biracial teen, was shot in the head, torso and right arm on March 6. He was unarmed. Police say that Kenny was responding to reports that a man had assaulted two people and was running in traffic. Kenny claims that Robinson tried to attack him just moments before the fatal shooting.
Ozanne said that Robinson's death was the result of a lawful use of force by the officer. Before laying out all of the details of the case, he addressed how his own racial makeup played a part in the investigation. “I am a man who understands the pain of unjustified profiling,” Ozanne said. “It is through this lens that I approach and accept my leadership responsibilities.”
The family plans to address the media and begin to march in the streets of Madison. "They could have done a lot. What they didn't do was give my son any respect," said Andrea Irwin, Robinson's mother, following the announcement.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval responded on his blog to the district attorney's decision in the case. Koval expressed his condolences to the family and addressed Officer Kenny's employment status. (He is on administrative leave.)
"Ever-prevalent gun violence has become the 'new' normal plaguing our City and the news headlines. And I am not going to absolve law enforcement for whatever role we have played in being complicit in the calculus of racial disparities," he wrote. "Given this sobering backdrop, one can understand why there is a sense of hopelessness and desperation with those who have not enjoyed (or even had the same access to) all of the opportunities that many of us take for granted. Systems improvements borne out of intentional, long-term, collaboration is our 'best' option for the future. Unrest like we have witnessed elsewhere in our country cannot possibly aid in constructive engagement and only holds us back."
Dozens of volunteer peacekeepers will take to the streets, said Ruben Anthony, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison.
"Anything that could present a problem for them in getting jobs later on or even create an economic hardship — we really want to avoid that,” Anthony said. “If we observe things that will cause them to get in trouble, we’re going to caution them and encourage them not to do that.”
On Sunday (May 10), Ozanne announced that he had made a decision in the case, but refused to tell the family the results of the investigation before Tuesday’s press conference.
This tragedy adds to the fueling debate over racism and excessive force used by police.
Earlier on Tuesday (May 12), Cuyahoga County sheriff Clifford Pinkney held a press conference in Cleveland on the death of Tamir Rice and asked for more time to finish the investigation.
Just over a week ago, Maryland state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby charged six Baltimore police officers in connection to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
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(Photo: Madison Police Department/Wisconsin Department of Corrections via AP)