Roland Martin talks to Andrea Irwin the mother of Tony Robinson, Jr., the Wisconsin teen who was killed by a police officer and Curtis Sales, a Milwaukee activist.
Robinson, 19, was suspected of attacking someone when he was confronted by Wisconsin police officer Matt Kenny. Kenny testified that when he followed Robinson into an apartment, where the teen, according to toxicology reports, was high on mushrooms, Xanax and marijuana.
Several 911 calls reported that Robinson was acting erratically before he was confronted by Kenny. Kenny says Robinson punched him in the head, and he sustained a concussion. Kenny says he shot him seven times as he though he would be disarmed and feared for his life.
“My son being that it was a Friday night, was hanging out with some friends and they starting doing some mushrooms. My son, was inexperienced in what they were doing and was not doing well with it. His friends called the police to try to get some help for him. (This account is supported by 911 calls, which mentioned Robinson by name). When the police came to help, Matt Kenny didn’t wait for backup as he was supposed to and in the 20 seconds Matt Kenny went into the house, [shots were fired].”
Irwin acknowledges that Robinson punched her son, but says that the scenario is unlikely in just 20 seconds.
Robinson, Jr., who was biracial, was on parole for an armed robbery at the time. In 2007, Kenny killed a white man in the line of duty. It was ruled a ‘suicide-by-cop’ at the time.
Irwin says she was so upset by the prosecutor’s decision she had to leave.
“It was hard, seeing as though I believe it was an unjustified shooting,” Irwin said. “I’ve been doing my own two month investigation. This is not the end for me. I’m not going to sit down and let Mat Kenny get away with murdering my son. I will take this as far as I have to and as far as my last breath.”
The prosecutor in Madison, Ismael Ozanne, is himself biracial, something he acknowledged in announcing there would be no charges.
“I conclude that this 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, the Dane County district attorney, announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
He also made note of his own racial heritage.
“I am the son of a black woman who still worries about my safety from the bias of privilege and violence that accompanies it,” he said. “I am a man who understands the pain of unjustified profiling.”
Protests in Madison have largely been peaceful and Irwin says she hopes that continues. Sales says that there is a consistent pattern of police abuse across the country.
“We are seeing this across the nation, it be Madison, Milwaukee, Ferguson, Missouri, New York, Cleveland, Ohio, we see that Black men and Black women are being unjustly killed by the police. This is a trend that is happening to African Americans,” Sales said.’Instead of DA’s being individuals that are impartial, they are individuals who work closely with the police to get convictions in each and every city across the nation.”
In Madison, Wisconsin, Sales says, more Black men are killed by police than in car accidents.
Irwin says the family will be filing a civil lawsuit.
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