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Madison Authorities Release Footage Showing Cop Firing Fatal Bullets at Tony Robinson

The video's release followed an announcement that prosecutors would not pursue criminal charges against the officer involved in the Wisconsin teen's shooting.
May 14, 2015, 4:35pm
Photo via Madison Police Department

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Shortly after the Dane County district attorney announced that no charges would be filed against the officer who fatally shot unarmed biracial teen Tony Robinson, setting off rounds of angry but largely peaceful protests, the Wisconsin Department of Justice released video of the shooting taken from a patrol car's dashcam.

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In the footage from the evening of March 6, Officer Matt Kenny can be seen stepping through the doorframe of an apartment house that Robinson had entered, with one hand placed on his holstered firearm. The 19-year-old was reportedly in the second floor apartment when the officer climbed the stairwell. Seconds later, three rapid shots can be heard, while Kenny is seen backing out through the front entranceway. A brief pause, then three more shots in succession and a fourth — the flash of which is visible in the dark — before the officer steps off the porch.

Police responded to the apartment after receiving 911 calls that Robinson was running in and out of street traffic and assaulting pedestrians. A friend of Robinson's told a police dispatcher that he was "tweaking, chasing everybody," and described his behavior as "outrageous." Two other men reported being either punched or strangled by Robinson, and said he was unstable. Kenny was first to arrive on the scene, and had been forewarned by dispatchers that the suspect was likely unarmed and intoxicated.

Related: Protests Continue After Fatal Police Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen In Madison, Wisconsin

The officer described Robinson — whom a lab report later determined had hallucinogenic mushrooms, cannabis, and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system — punching him in the head near the top of the stairs in the building and knocking him into the wall. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said that this account was supported by a concussion that Kenny received and by corresponding damage to drywall. Kenny, who is white, was not wearing a bodycam.

Kenny later said that he was concerned that he would fall down the stairs and lose consciousness, and was afraid that Robinson would take his firearm and use it on him or whomever else was in the building. The officer told investigators that he "did not know how he got to the bottom of the stairs," and added that he had to use deadly force because of "space and time considerations."

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Robinson was hit by bullets in his lip, left front shoulder, left chest, and right index finger.

The dashcam footage is the sole video recording to emerge in the shooting so far. The case is the latest in a raft of police killings of unarmed black or biracial men that have sparked months of demonstrations and garnered worldwide attention.

On Tuesday, Ozanne announced that his office would not file criminal charges against Kenny, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

"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.," he said. A report on the investigation into the shooting conducted by state authorities was also released.

The police union praised the decision, saying it was "appropriate."

"The exhaustive, independent and transparent investigation into this tragic incident has confirmed that Officer Kenny's actions on the night of March 6 were lawful and in response to a deadly threat, from which Officer Kenny sustained numerous injuries, including a concussion," Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer said in a statement.

And the march begins — Mary Spicuzza (@MSpicuzzaMJS)May 12, 2015

After the prosecutor's announcement Tuesday, around 300 protesters gathered outside the apartment building where the shooting occurred. Demonstrations carried onto the next day when some protesters converged on the Dane County Courthouse in Madison after marching through the streets. Members of the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition held a "people's court" outside of the building to symbolically try local authorities involved in the incident and investigation.

Although the rallies have remained largely peaceful, at least 28 people have been arrested, according to local reports.