A lawsuit filed in the death of a 19-year-old Madison man fatally shot by a police officer in 2015 has been settled for $3.35 million. Attorneys representing the family of Tony Robinson held a Thursday press conference to announce the settlement in the fatal shooting of Robinson, who was biracial, by white Officer Matt Kenny.
Madison’s police chief reacted to the news of the settlement during a Capitol press conference on drug overdoses.
“No amount of money is ever going to equate with or compensate adequately the loss, the pain and the grief that the Robinson family has to contend with,” Mike Koval said. “But similarly, this is an officer who has basically had his career marooned and placed on a desert island the past two years, subject to the court of public opinion.”
Kenny was cleared of any wrongdoing in the death of Robinson. Robinson’s family filed the federal lawsuit against the city and Kenny, arguing that Kenny didn’t need to confront Robinson in the stairwell of a Williamson street residence. Kenny responded to calls reporting a man running in traffic and assaulting people.
During their press conference outside the Capitol building on Thursday, attorneys representing the Robinson family said they would have challenged Kenny’s version of the incident, had the suit proceeded to a trial.
Kenny told investigators that he shot and killed Robinson, who was under the influence of drugs, as the two scuffled at the top of the stairwell. Dash camera video from the officer’s own squad car showed him firing while standing at the bottom of the stairs.
“The facts of the case are that this dude lied, and nobody ever called him out on it,” said attorney David Owens. “That’s why we’re here, because he needs to be called out.”
“There is a truth, and the internal investigation process of the city of Madison absolutely failed the Tony Robinson family, and it absolutely failed the citizens of the city of Madison,” said attorney Anand Swaminathan. “That process needs to be fixed and it needs to be changed.
Koval said the settlement will have a “chilling effect” on police and recruiting. “Let’s all be adult it. This has implications beyond the pale of a case that has no legal precedent, but it certainly has a shelf life.”
While the union representing Madison officers said the settlement by the city’s insurance company was “an outrageous decision” that denied Officer Kenny his day in court, Swaminathan said it is evidence that the city could have lost in a civil trial.
“If professional risk assessors are telling you that you are going to lose, then you have a problem.”