The grandmother of Tony Robinson, has filed a petition asking a judge to press charges against the Madison police officer who shot and killed her grandson in 2015.
She’s using a relatively obscure state law to ask a judge to look at new evidence that has emerged in the seven years since her grandson’s killing.
“Everybody deserves their day in court, and that includes my grandson. Because an officer had shot him, that’s the only reason he didn’t get it. That’s not good enough for me. Especially when the officer lies to justify what he’s doing. I’ve read the evidence up one side and down the other, I know exactly what I’m saying,” Irwin says.
Officer Matt Kenny shot and killed Tony Terrell Robinson in March 2015, and Kenny is still on the Madison Police force today. At the time, Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne declined to press charges, despite urging from Robinson’s family.
A federal civil lawsuit filed in the fall of 2015 by Robinson’s family alleges Kenny violated Robinson’s fourth amendment rights. Eventually, the city settled out of court.
During that 2015 litigation, the judge in the case did find that forensic evidence differed from Kenny’s account, and that there was enough evidence to bring Kenny’s credibility into question.
Irwin, who was not a part of the settlement and received no money, says that all she has wanted is justice for her grandson.
“There’s too many differences here for me to just say yes. This was from a federal judge who said he must stand trial, but no, that didn’t happen but that’s evidence to me,” Irwin says.
And Irwin says she wants people – especially a judge – to look at the evidence. To do that, she’susing a little known state statute that says that, if a district attorney refuses or is unable to file charges , a circuit judge is able to issue a criminal complaint if they find probable cause.
The petition, delivered by Irwin earlier this week, calls for a judge to take a second look at the evidence surrounding the case. and file a complaint charging officer Kenny with either First or Second Degree Reckless Homicide. If a judge finds probable cause, the complaint asks a judge to assign a special prosecutor who has no ties to law enforcement.
Irwin says that she is not concerned that the law she’s using is relatively unknown.
“This law is written for us, (for) me, (for) the guy down the street whose having a difficult time. This is a very vague law, but it works for us, and it does work for citizens. This is a citizen’s law,” Irwin says.
A similar process using a different section of state law is underway in Milwaukee, where a family is seeking charges against a former Wauwautosa officer who shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016. A decision on that case is expected within the next few weeks.
Irwin maintains that multiple parts of Kenny’s story don’t add up, and that evidence that was not considered years ago should be looked at this time. She says Kenny’s narrative of events changed multiple times, and that the forensic evidence collected after the shooting cast a shadow over his credibility.
Irwin says that she is confident that there is enough evidence to show probable cause that Kenny had acted recklessly.
The complaint was filed by attorney Syovata Edari, who also works as a local chocolatier. Irwin says Edari has been working pro bono, though they are trying to raise funds to compensate her for her time. More information can be found here.
Edari could not be reached by airtime. Neither could District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.
As of today, the case has been accepted by Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn.
Photo courtesy: Brian Standing / WORT Flickr