Cop’s Shooting Story Won’t Add Up, Mom Says

     MADISON, Wis. (CN) – The family of an unarmed black man fatally shot by police has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the officer who killed him.
     Andrea Irwin filed the action Wednesday against the city of Madison and Officer Matthew Kenny, who was not charged and cleared of wrongdoing for shooting the her 19-year-old son Tony Robinson Jr. seven times on March 6.
     “In short, while nothing can ever bring Tony Robinson, Jr. back – and no form of redress can ever be truly adequate – this action seeks to hold accountable those responsible for the violation of constitutional rights of not only Tony Robinson, Jr. but as well as others harmed by the Defendants’ actions,” the complaint states.
     Robinson’s friends called the police before leaving their residence, where Robinson remained, according to the complaint. Robinson was allegedly behaving “erratically,” running in traffic and “speaking to his father, who was not present at the home.”
     Irwin says the Madison Police Department dispatched Kenny and two other officers to the scene, but Kenny arrived first and entered without backup, knowing Robinson was the only person in the residence.
      A criminal investigation report describes Kenny as having said that he entered to intervene after assuming someone was being assaulted because he allegedly heard sounds of violence from inside the residence.
     “Within seconds of entering the stairwell, Officer Kenny used his gun to fire seven shots at Tony Robinson,” the complaint states.
     “In so doing, Defendant Kenny fired a first volley of three shots, but then stopped to pick up his flashlight, which he had dropped. Defendant Kenny then took a step back and fired three more shots into Tony Robinson. Then, Defendant Kenny took another step back, raised his gun again, and fired a seventh shot.”
     Kenny told investigators, according to the report, that Robinson struck him in the head as he reached the top of the stairs, and continued to “aggress” toward him as he fired shots out of fear Robinson would disable him and take his gun.
     Irwin now says that criminal investigation was itself flawed because it gave Kenny and his attorney improper access to video and audio recordings before the officer gave a statement.
     “Nonetheless, even when defendant Kenny finally told his story to investigators, his account conflicted with the audio and video recordings,” the complaint states.
     Irwin notes that video shows all the shots were fired from the bottom of the stairwell, and shows no evidence Robinson “aggressed” toward Kenny before he began firing.
     Further, the city’s internal investigation that cleared Kenny of any wrongdoing was a sham that ignored video and audio evidence, instead accepting Kenny’s account of events “wholesale,” according to the complaint.
     Speaking to Madison’s past of having “failed to discipline MPD officers who have used deadly force against unarmed individuals without justification,” the complaint notes that “the MPD has had a history of accepting and encouraging such conduct.”
     “Indeed, as reported by local media, officers in the city of Madison has killed at least 5 unarmed citizens since 2012 but failed to discipline or re-train its officers,” the complaint states.
     Jon Loevy and David Owens with Loevy & Loevy in Chicago filed the complaint and announced the action at a news conference in Madison.
     Though Loevy’s website promotes its multimillion-dollar settlements in police-misconduct, Owens said in a phone interview that they are also seeking policy changes at the city level.
     “You can’t just not adequately train people and then have them violate peoples’ constitutional rights,” Owens said, adding that it’s the city’s responsibility to train its officers on correct use of force.
     Owens said they also want meaningful penalties for officers who violate those standards, and a proper investigation process that does not allow an officer to review evidence before making a statement.
     Madison City Attorney Michael May did not respond to a request for comment.

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