Reopening the Tony Robinson Case: Grandmother starts petition to get MPD officer fired for perjury

Robinson's grandmother believes she has enough evidence to get Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny fired for perjury

MADISON, Wis. — The death of Tony Robinson made national headlines nearly six years ago. It’s a day that Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin Henry has never forgotten.

“On March 6, 2015 at 6:38 in the evening, he died on the steps at 1125 Williamson Street with seven bullets in him,” Irwin-Henry recalled.

That was the day that Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny took her grandson’s life.

“Eighteen seconds after he showed up at Brandon’s, the first guy he shot and killed, he was dead,” Irwin-Henry said. “Two people in Madison, within 30 seconds of him arriving were dead, and we allow him to be on the force.”

Irwin-Henry started a petition online to reopen her grandson’s case to get Kenny fired.

“He lied. He justified shooting Terrell with disputed facts,” she said.

In 2015, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne decided to not file charges against Kenny, calling Robinson’s death “the result of a lawful use of deadly police force.”

Since that decision was made, new reports show that the statements that officer Kenny made weren’t backed up by forensic evidence.

“If you lie to justify what you’re doing, there is no justification,” Irwin-Henry said.

Legal documents released in 2016 show that Kenny told investigators he initially shot Robinson at the top of the stairs after hearing people arguing.  Kenny said Robinson came toward him, feared for his life and shot him again.

But later, Kenny retracted some of his statements, and the video MPD released showed Kenny’s account of what happened wasn’t true.

A forensic pathologist wrote “the downward trajectories of the gunshot wounds suggest several possibilities, none of which are consistent with the description provided by Officer Kenny.”

A forensic scientist also described how Kenny’s statements were inconsistent with what they found, leading Irwin-Henry to believe that every reason Kenny used to justify the shooting never actually happened.

“If we cannot get the help from the city, we are asking for help from the people,” Irwin-Henry said. “Come with us in this because all I want you to do is see the truth.”

Irwin-Henry’s efforts are backed by Greg Gelembiuk, the founder of Madison’s Community Response Team.

“The storyline about what happened is false,” Gelembiuk said. “The shooting was not justified.”

Vice Chair of the Madison Police Civilian Oversight Board Shady Kilfoy-Flores is open to the suggestion too.

“I do support the case being looked at again,” Kilfoy-Flores said. “I think some new evidence is now available and that our community deserves to know the truth.”

Irwin-Henry said she plans to meet with Ozanne one more time to see if he’s willing to look at the case again and to fire Matt Kenny for perjury.

“I’m not asking you to make a decision based on what I say,” Irwin-Henry said. “I’m asking you to make a decision based on what the evidence says.”

According to Wisconsin Statute 968.02 (3), if Ozanne does not file a criminal complaint, Irwin-Henry can take it to a judge to decide if there is probable cause to believe Kenny committed an offense.

Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Hurley said although Irwin-Henry has the right to do this, perjury cases can be tough.

“Perjury requires you to show that someone intentionally lied while under oath,” Hurley said. “Showing someone’s intent is always a difficult thing to do.”

In the family’s civil case against the city, Judge James Peterson said Kenny’s credibility was questionable and wanted him to stand trial.

But, that never happened. The family settled for $3 million and Kenny is still on the force.

Irwin-Henry is hopeful that through widespread community support and years of investigating the evidence herself, that she can uphold the burden of proof.

“We are a community and we’ve got to do this together,” she said.

News 3 Now reached out to the Madison Police Department, the Police and Fire Commission and the City Attorney who all said they would not comment on this case. Ozanne never responded to our requests for comment either.

In a separate interview with Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes, he said, “I have to respect the process. If the process cleared the officer, then that’s what I have to respect. If there’s new information that comes out, we’ll deal with it when that time comes; but Matt Kenny continues to be employed. He’s in a position where he’s not interacting with the public at this particular time, so that’s the path that we’ll continue to be on.”

MPD has a code of conduct relating to perjury that states, “Members of the Department are required to be truthful. This regulation prohibits perjury, withholding of evidence from a judicial proceeding, false public statements, untruthful statements made within the Department, and any other misrepresentations.”