Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced he will not charge Madison Police Department Officer Matt Kenny in the death of 19-year-old Tony Robinson.
Ozanne released his decision during a Tuesday press conference before meeting with the Robinson family.
“My decision is not based on emotion,” said Ozanne, the first person of color to serve as district attorney in Wisconsin. “My decision is based on the rule of law and the oath I took to uphold the Constitution.”
The DA’s decision comes after receiving results of a Department of Justice investigation into the March 6 incident where Kenny, a 12-year veteran of the police force, shot Robinson after an altercation in a Williamson Street home.
The investigation into Robinson’s death complied with state statutes requiring that a party independent of law enforcement agencies look into the case, Ozanne said.
Investigators confirmed three 911 calls saying Robinson was acting erratically, blocking traffic and later assaulting two pedestrians, before Kenny arrived at the scene.
Upon arriving and entering the residence, Kenny, who had been told by 911 dispatchers that Robinson was unarmed, identified himself as a police officer. Robinson then “aggressed toward the officer and swung at him,” Ozanne said.
“Seven shots were fired in the span of three seconds, and all shots hit Robinson in close range,” he said.
Robinson’s family criticized Ozanne’s announcement in a Tuesday press conference outside the Social Justice Center near the scene of Robinson’s death.
“We have not had time to review what they have provided to us,” said Jon Loevy, the Robinson family’s attorney. “There are a number of questions to be answered.”
"We are no Baltimore. We are no Ferguson. We are Madison, Wisconsin." -Jivonte Davis pic.twitter.com/LcITnRhLw0— Betsy Osterberger (@B_Osterberger) May 12, 2015
Kenny’s attorney praised Ozanne’s decision as appropriate.
“We believe the district attorney’s decision today to exonerate Officer Matt Kenny was appropriate,” said Jim Palmer, Kenny’s attorney and the executive director of Wisconsin Professional Police Association, in a Tuesday statement. “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.”
MPD Chief Mike Koval praised the efforts of the DA's office, saying that Ozanne "takes his role [as a prosecutor] extremely seriously."
"[The DA's office has] continued to urge the community to be civically engaged, to voice that dissent," Koval said.
Koval said Kenny will remain on administrative leave while MPD finishes its internal investigation, which will wrap up in the next week.
Koval says internal investigation of Officer Kenny will wrap up within one or two weeks— Andrew Hahn (@ndrewhahn) May 12, 2015
Robinson’s death has sparked multiple protests over the past two months. Tuesday’s decision triggered protests later that afternoon with more to come in the following days, according to organizers.
“Obviously as a police chief who has been all too familiar with narratives that have been written in other communities, I am hoping for a different sort of outcome from our community in the days to come,” Koval said, hoping the protests would stay peaceful.
"I believe that we will win" as the protest marches down Willy pic.twitter.com/bTeuZQ7A4k— Kaitlyn Veto (@kait_veto) May 12, 2015
On campus, students gathered for a vigil at Pres House to support each other throughout the healing process.
“We are a community here that goes beyond tonight,” explained Campus Co-Pastor Erica Liu.
The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition will hold a “Black-OUT Wednesday” march starting at Williamson Street and have urged local businesses to close in solidarity.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin will address the DA’s decision in a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Rev. Everett Mitchell gave closing remarks to protesters on Capitol square tonight. pic.twitter.com/G7mxVDIBsy— Betsy Osterberger (@B_Osterberger) May 12, 2015
Dana Kampa contributed to this report.