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Are police-civilian shootings happening more often, or do we just hear about them more now because of news and social media?
On March 6, 2015, police responded to several 911 calls reporting that a man was acting erratic and hurting people. Once they arrived on the scene, they found 19 year old Tony Terrell Robinson Jr., a biracial man, reportedly acting violently. Officer Matt Kenny, who is white, engaged in an altercation with Robinson, and in the melee, Kenny fatally shot him.
Yesterday, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne decided not to file charges, calling the shooting a lawful use of deadly police force.
Under Wisconsin law, police departments are not allowed to conduct their own internal investigations for officer-involved shootings. Connecticut is the only other state with a similar law. Robinson's shooting was investigated by state investigators independent from Kenny's police department.
The investigation report, released yesterday, showed that several people called 911 to report Robinson's actions to the police. Once caller told a police operator that a person, later identified as Robinson, jumped in front of his car. Another caller, named T.T. in the report, claimed that Robinson tried to choke him. T.T. also witnessed Robinson throw a punch at a passing couple. Several people interviewed by investigators reported that Robinson was acting erratic and "going crazy," possibly caused by drugs.
Kenny told investigators that when he arrived at the area of the incident, he heard incoherent yelling and screaming and the sound of someone being punched. When Kenny approached Robinson, he claims that Robinson punched him with a closed fist on the left side of his head. As Robinson continued coming at him, Kenny shot a burst of two to three shots at Robinson. The officer claimed that he feared Robinson could have incapacitated him and stolen his gun.
Robinson's mother told CNN that the family will file a civil lawsuit against the police department.
Until then, Kenny will face no legal ramifications for Robinson's shooting.
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