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Wisconsin Cop Who Shot Unarmed Teen in His Home to Return to Work

Madison Officer Matt Kenny is officially free to return to duty after being cleared in an internal police investigation and prosecutors declined to charge the cop.

by VICE News
Jun 3 2015, 9:38pm

Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA

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Wisconsin police investigators on Wednesday officially cleared a white police officer of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting on an unarmed biracial teen, in a decision that allows the officer to return to duty.

In mid-May, prosecutors already declined to press charges against Officer Matt Kenny for the March 6 killing of 19-year-old Tony Robinson. The results of the internal investigation has officially exonerated the 12-year veteran of the force, who has been on paid leave since the incident, the Associated Press reported.

"He's looking forward to working, to getting back and doing the job he loves," said Kenny's attorney Jim Palmer, who is also executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.

Kenny was additionally involved in a fatal shooting in 2007, for which he was also cleared.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval is reportedly looking to place Kenny in a modified role, possibly on patrol, over concern for the officer's safety following threats made against his life. The Robinson family has also reportedly received threats.

The internal investigation report has not yet been released publicly, but could be released as early as Thursday after Kenny has inspected it — as is his legal right — authorities said.

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

The incident reportedly began when police responded to Robinson's apartment on March 6 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. Officer Kenny was first to arrive on the scene, and had been forewarned by dispatchers that the suspect was likely unarmed, and intoxicated.

Shortly after the Dane County district attorney's mid-May announced that no charges would be filed against Kenny, the Wisconsin Department of Justice released video of the shooting taken from a patrol car's dashcam.

In the footage, Kenny can be seen stepping through the doorframe of an apartment house that Robinson had entered, with one hand placed on his holstered firearm.

Robinson 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. After a brief pause, three more shots are heard in succession, then a fourth is heard — the flash of which is visible in the dark — before the officer steps off the porch.

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 at the time of Robinson's death.

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 whoever 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."

Kenny has not spoken publicly since the shooting. His lawyer said Kenny was "pleased" with Wednesday's decision.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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