Police Shoot Unarmed Teen 7 Times After He “Acted Erratically”

Molly Willms | Courthouse News Service

MADISON, Wis. (CN) – The city of Madison, Wis., is off the hook for the death of Tony Robinson Jr., an unarmed, black 19-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer two years ago.

But Officer Matthew Kenny, who was not criminally charged or disciplined in any way for the incident, must face a jury in the federal civil rights lawsuit Robinson’s mother filed last year.

“In sum, no reasonable jury could conclude that the prospect of a biased MPD internal investigation was the moving force behind Kenny’s decision to use deadly force against Robinson,” U.S. District Court Judge James D. Peterson wrote in his opinion Monday.

“Whether Kenny’s use of force was objectively unreasonable is an issue that must be resolved at trial,” he concluded.

Robinson’s friends called the police before leaving their residence on March 6, 2015, where Robinson remained, according to mother Andrea Irwin’s complaint.


Robinson was allegedly behaving “erratically,” running in traffic and “speaking to his father, who was not present at the home.”

A criminal investigation report describes Kenny as having said that he entered the home to intervene after assuming someone was being assaulted because he heard sounds of violence from inside the residence.

“Within seconds of entering the stairwell, Officer Kenny used his gun to fire seven shots at Tony Robinson,” Irwin’s complaint states.

“In so doing, Defendant Kenny fired a first volley of three shots, but then stopped to pick up his flashlight, which he had dropped. Defendant Kenny then took a step back and fired three more shots into Tony Robinson. Then, Defendant Kenny took another step back, raised his gun again, and fired a seventh shot.”

According to the report, Kenny told investigators that Robinson struck him in the head as he reached the top of the stairs, and continued to “aggress” toward him as he fired shots out of fear Robinson would disable him and take his gun.

The first three shots were non-fatal, but the following four killed Robinson, Judge Peterson wrote.

“[W]hat happened in the stairwell on March 6, 2015, is sharply and genuinely disputed,” Peterson said in explaining why Kenny cannot join the city in dismissal from the case. “Expert evidence is critical to this case, because Kenny is the only remaining witness to what happened in the stairwell.”

But Irwin was unable to show that Kenny – who faced no discipline or charges for fatally shooting another man armed with a pellet gun in 2007 – relied on past Madison Police cases to determine his use of force would not be punished, Peterson ruled.

“The bottom line is that plaintiff has not adduced evidence to show that Robinson died because the City turned a blind eye to obvious problems with the police department’s investigation or response to officer-involved shootings. Accordingly, plaintiff’s constitutional claim against the City fails,” the ruling states.

Peterson also ruled that all of Irwin’s experts will be permitted to weigh in on the case, but quashed two of Kenny’s experts and only allowed a portion of two others’ opinions for jury consideration.

According to local news reports, Kenny was most recently on mounted patrol.

Jury selection in the trial is set to begin Feb. 27 at 9 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Madison.

Published by Courthouse News Service. 

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 4129 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • Will Ewing Sr

    He’ll get away with murder, again. Just like he did the first time. Had they NOT allowed him to get away that time, this person would not be dead. From where I stand, the POS needs to be locked away for first degree murder and the MPD needs to be sued for negligence.

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    • Sb

      I don’t know all of the circumstances, but even if this kid clobbered/hit the officer in the head, a tase or one shot would have worked well enough to gain control. 7 shots? That is killing on purpose in my opinion. I think a conviction of 2nd degree, not meditated first degree would give this officer a lesson. 1st degree=planned… this seemed heat of the moment…you say this officer has done it before? Did not know that, now I’m curious-
      I think a police officer using force is acceptable to control a situation, but a tase or one non lethal shot should be first steps. Not taking lives. There has to be another way of force out there so that death doesn’t occur. At the end of the day, these two worlds need to work together to accomplish safety. But with things like this, it is not going to happen soon. Guns should be a last mean of true protection, not shooting someone running away, as I’ve seen before. Last I knew it was a polices officers duty to serve and protect. Shooting this kid 7 times was not doing his job.
      Sorry for this long post, but this story upset me down here in FL.