On Monday the family and supporters of Tony Robinson Jr., a biracial 19-year-old who was shot and killed by white Madison, Wis., police officer Matt Kenny on March 6, gathered to voice their waning faith in the credibility of a state investigation into their son’s death.
Jerome Flowers, a spokesperson for the Robinson family, spoke in front of the Dane County Courthouse Monday calling on District Attorney Ismael Ozanne “to do the right thing” and indict Kenny, Capital Times reported. The state Department of Justice delivered its report into Robinson’s death to the local DA on March 27. The local prosecutor will now decide whether or not to indict Kenny.
Activists say Robinson’s death is illuminating weaknesses in Wisconsin’s AB 409, the first state law of its kind requiring an independent state investigation in the wake of a police fatality. The law requires that three investigators with the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigations look into law enforcement incidents that result in fatalities, two of whom are may not be employed by the agency involved in the shooting. But even backers of the law have acknowledged that it has loopholes which don’t fully ensure independence, Colorlines reported. One of the state investigators involved in the inquiry into Robinson’s death used to be employed by the Madison police department, the very agency in question, The Guardian reported on Saturday.
Robinson’s family called on the DA to meet with them, and also review the findings of a private autopsy before making a decision about potential criminal charges, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The Young Gifted and Black Coalition, a group of youth leaders in Wisconsin, is already preparing for a non-indictment, and has put out a public call preparing for a protest either way.
“I want to take it to the place where police are really here to protect us,” Robinson’s grandmother Sharon Irwin told Madison’s WORT on Monday. “We as a people, we have to make the changes. That’s the only way it’s going to happen. We have to be tired enough to say, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore… I don’t want to live in fear anymore.’ I want my grandkids to live in place where they don’t have to worry about getting shot on the street because of the color of their skin, where they’re at, or who they happen to look like.”