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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A white Wisconsin police officer won’t be charged for fatally shooting an unarmed 19-year-old biracial man, a prosecutor announced Tuesday, prompting peaceful demonstrations but none of the immediate violence that has hit some other U.S. cities in similar cases.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said he wouldn’t file charges against Madison Officer Matt Kenny in the March 6 death of Tony Robinson, saying the officer used lawful deadly force after he was staggered by a punch to the head and feared for his life.

Ozanne, mopping his brow repeatedly but speaking forcefully for some 25 minutes, took pains to outline his own biracial heritage before announcing his decision.

“I am the son of a black woman who still worries about my safety,” Ozanne said. “I am a man who understands the pain of unjustified profiling, and I am the first district attorney of color, not only in Dane County, but in the state of Wisconsin.”

Then, Ozanne walked through evidence from the scene, 911 callers, Robinson’s friends, police affidavits, crime lab reports and more to paint a picture of a young man out of control from a mix of hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and Xanax. Kenny rushed to the apartment building and immediately became concerned that Robinson was attacking someone upstairs. He fired his weapon only after he was punched in the head and feared he might be disarmed and killed, Ozanne said.

Kenny wasn’t wearing a body camera. Dashcam video released Tuesday shows the outside of the home, and the shots fired can be heard.

“I conclude that (Robinson’s) tragic and unfortunate death was the result of a lawful use of deadly police force and that no charges should be brought against Officer Kenny in the death of Tony Robinson Jr.,” Ozanne said. He quickly wrapped up and left to meet Robinson family members.

Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin (pictured) said she was not surprised by the decision. The investigation wasn’t thorough enough, she said.

“They could have done a lot. What they didn’t do was give my son any respect,” she said. But family members, as they have since the shooting, asked that protests remain peaceful.

About 100 people gathered at Robinson’s apartment house in the wake of Ozanne’s decision. One of them, Jivonte Davis, 19, said he had known Robinson since the fifth grade.

“I can go out and break stuff and do anything I want right now,” Davis said. “But rioting and everything, what would that achieve? We’re no Ferguson; we’re no Baltimore. We’re going to do this the right way. We’re going to do this peacefully.”

The protesters, eventually estimated by police at 250 to 300 people, began marching to the state Capitol about a mile and a half away. Some had dogs and strollers and were bound for a nearby church for a prayer service. Marchers chanted, “No justice, no peace. No racist police,” and held a banner that read “Justice for Tony.” They eventually dispersed.

One lead group in organizing earlier protests, the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, had earlier announced plans to demonstrate on Wednesday.

Jim Palmer, Kenny’s attorney and the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the state’s largest police union, issued a statement praising Ozanne’s decision. Palmer noted that Kenny suffered several injuries including a concussion.

Robinson’s death forced Madison — a liberal bastion that is home of the University of Wisconsin and the state capital — to confront racial divisions. Blacks make up about 7 percent of the population but more than that in arrests, incarceration and poverty. One demand from the Young, Gifted and Black group was to drop plans to renovate the county jail and to free 350 black inmates.

Police Chief Mike Koval wrote in a blog post following Ozanne’s announcement that the city was at a crossroads, with the chance to show that “civic dissent and even acts of civil disobedience” can co-exist with police. Koval’s post included how protesters could avoid the most damaging arrests, and he posted a list of ordinance violations, misdemeanors and “protected activities” complete with fine amounts for the violations.

But police were also ready for the possibility of violence. A Madison police captain warned city leaders in an email before Ozanne’s decision that police had received threats from reliable sources that gang members planned violence against officers.

The shooting was another in a series of police confrontations that have ignited racial tension across the nation in the past year. Most recently in Baltimore, riots erupted after the funeral for Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. Other high-profile cases of officers killing unarmed black residents include the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York City; and Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Six officers involved in Gray’s death have been charged, as has the officer who killed Scott. Grand juries declined to charge the officers involved in Brown’s and Garner’s deaths.

Associated Press writers Scott Bauer and Dana Ferguson contributed to this report.

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10 thoughts on “Police Officer Won’t Be Charged In Wisconsin Teen’s Death

  1. ambientbake on said:

    Tony Robinson was just doing what “they” do best; acting violent, irresponsible, and uneducated. We should have picked our own cotton – look at all the trouble they have been in the last 75 yrs.

  2. JBrooks on said:

    Listening to the mother account of what happened, what was the police suppose to do? If he gets punched in the face by someone who’s high on drugs and not knowing what’s going to happen. I don’t agree with a lot of the officers who’ve killed in the past but this one is different to me. Maybe I missed something. I think if we put ourselves in the officers shoes we would feel differently.

  3. Mrknowitall on said:

    Notice the racist woman to the right. She has an angry look on her face as she looks at the biracial couple.

  4. monica on said:

    People should put as much effort into raising and protecting their children as they do after they’ve been killed.

  5. Johnson on said:

    No reason to make this into something that it isn’t media. The moral of this story is to keep your kids off of drugs. And that includes the legal stuff. I have seen more legal drugs that are far worst than what you can get from the street. And I have been around pot for a very long time. Don’t let people lie to you and say it is a harmless drug. Just like drinking you have those who can handle it and those who can’t. Yes pot can make you paranoid! Yes pot can make you violent! Yes pot can make you do very stupid stuff! Just because it is becoming legal doesn’t mean you should just allow your children to use it. Let them grow up first.

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