Family attorney: $3.3M settlement ‘vindication for the Robinson family’
MADISON, Wis. — Attorneys for Tony Robinson said Thursday that the large-sum settlement in the case is vindication for the family, but it’s not the end of discussing the controversial case.
Attorneys Anand Swaminathan and David Owens said the $3.35 million civil suit settlement, the largest in state history for an officer-involved shooting, is vindication for the family, but it can’t bring back the 19-year-old or and does nothing to illuminate what they say are problems with facts in the case as police have presented, which they claim have been “demonstrably false.”
“None of this is about money. We have been broke our whole lives; that’s fine by us. I just want our son,” Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, said. “We would love for our son’s heart to be beating, and for him to be here, and for none of this to ever happen. And that’s all we have ever wanted.”
Swaminathan said that in the coming weeks, the family plans to release more information and details about the shooting on March 6, 2015, that would have been presented at the trial.
“A jury is not going to render a verdict, but the community still can,” Swaminathan said.
The family of Robinson, a biracial man who was fatally shot by Madison police Officer Matt Kenny in 2015, held a news conference Thursday to discuss the settlement in connection with a federal civil lawsuit on Robinson’s behalf. The shooting and Robinson’s death sparked protests throughout the city calling for an examination of police use-of-force policy and renewed efforts by police to educate and engage the community.
Surrounded by family and friends on the steps of the Madison Capitol building, Irwin said she wanted to see the civil case go to trial, but she settled because she didn’t want to put her children through the trauma of rehashing Robinson’s death.
“At the end of the day, whatever you believe about my son, he was a human being,” Irwin said. “My son deserves some form of peace. He’s gone.”
Swaminathan said the city did the “right thing” in settling the civil suit, and that “hopefully Tony’s legacy means some lives will be saved.”
At an unrelated news conference at the Capitol Thursday morning, Madison police Chief Mike Koval called the resolution to the civil suit a “hollow judgment.” He, too, said he would have rather seen the case go to trial, but he thinks the insurance company settling was a business decision and not a suggestion of wrongdoing on Kenny’s part. (Kenny was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Dane County district attorney in May 2015 and in an internal police department investigation.)
Swaminathan called Koval’s statement is problematic, and Swaminathan said that he believed the city would not have settled if it thought it could win at trial.
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