MPD: Kenny exonerated in Robinson shooting

MPD: Kenny exonerated in Robinson shooting
MPD officer Matt Kenny

Madison police have exonerated Officer Matthew Kenny of any wrongdoing in connection with the death of Tony Robinson nearly three months ago. The police department’s internal affairs decision came three weeks after the Dane County district attorney announced Kenny wouldn’t be charged criminally.

A news release Wednesday afternoon from the Madison Police Department’s internal affairs unit said the internal review was completed and found that Kenny’s use of deadly force was authorized.

Kenny fatally shot 19-year-old Robinson in the stairwell of an apartment on Williamson Street on March 6. Kenny was responding to calls that Robinson had attacked two people and was running in traffic.

In a news conference Wednesday, Chief Mike Koval said Kenny will meet with a psychiatrist and undergo training. Koval said there’s no time frame for Kenny’s full return to patrol, but that he will not be resigning or retiring from the force.

Koval said Kenny will be working with training logistics and first-responder training.

“Matt has always shown a proficiency in that kind of training — first aid training, life-saving training. And he will be one of many assigned to train our rank and file on how to properly administer that,” Koval said.

Koval said while it will be a long while before Kenny could end up patrolling Madison streets again, he said it is definitely a possibility.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said on May 12 he would not charge Kenny criminally in Robinson’s death.

Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer, Kenny’s attorney, said in a statement Wednesday that he was pleased with the internal affairs decision and it was the “correct result.”

“Nonetheless, those facts do not diminish our recognition of the loss that the Robinson family has suffered, and we again extend to them our deepest condolences,” Palmer wrote. He said Kenny is looking forward to returning to the Madison Police Department “in a way that delicately balances the sensitivities of the community, the department’s needs, and the rights of an officer whose actions have been carefully examined and deemed appropriate.”

Palmer said their plan is to work with MPD and transition Kenny back to police service and patrol.

“It’s not lost on us that a family has suffered a tragic loss, but we do take some conciliation in the fact this matter has been thoroughly investigated,” Palmer said.

Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, said the family has proof Kenny directly disobeyed an order not to enter the Williamson Street home on March 6.

“It wasn’t justified,” Irwin said. “My son was murdered. And I don’t think anyone that killed my son in the fashion that he killed my son should be allowed to go back to work.”

Robinson’s death sparked numerous protests by groups, including the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, which took issue with the fact that a white police officer shot an unarmed biracial teen.

YGB member Matt Braunginn said the coalition was not surprised by Kenny’s exoneration.

“This is another example of what happens when you allow the police to police themselves,” Braunginn said in a statement to News 3. “They protect their own. This is why we are calling for community control over the police, so (we) the people can decide if an officer should continue being one.”

Braunginn also said the coalition is calling for the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation of Robinson’s death.

Multiple community events protesting Robinson’s death shared the motto “Black Lives Matter,” a phrase used by organizations nationwide to protest the deaths of black men by white law enforcement officers.

NAACP President Greg Jones, speaking on the heels of the African American Council of Churches calling for Kenny’s resignation, said the lack of a complete report is problematic.

“The statement today does not promote transparency, which is not going to do a lot to promote trust among the community — particularly communities of color,” Jones said.

The day after Ozanne’s decision not to charge Kenny, about 200 demonstrators marched from the Williamson Street home where Robinson was killed to the Capitol building.

The internal affairs decision received Wednesday was signed by Koval and Lt. Cory Nelson.