MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A woman has asked a judge to authorize homicide charges against a white Madison police officer who shot and killed her biracial grandson seven years ago.
Tony Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin-Henry, filed a petition Monday asking a judge to find that probable cause exists to charge Officer Matt Kenny and to appoint to the case a special prosecutor who has no ties to law enforcement, such as a lawyer who specializes in criminal defense or some other area of the law, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday.
The petition falls under Wisconsin’s so-called John Doe law, which allows citizens to ask judges to approve charges if prosecutors initially refuse to file any.
Kenny shot and killed Robinson in a darkened stairwell in a home on Madison’s east side in 2015. Kenny responded to reports that Robinson had allegedly assaulted two people.
Kenny said he encountered Robinson in the stairwell leading up to the home’s second-floor apartment and that Robinson punched him in the head, forcing him to fire to protect himself.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who is Black, announced in May 2015 that Kenny would not face charges in the case. Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, settled a federal civil rights lawsuit with the city of Madison in February 2017 for $3.3 million.
Robinson’s grandmother, Irwin-Henry, contends that Kenny lied about what happened in the stairwell and questioned his decision to enter the home without backup. She said in a statement filed with her petition that she waited seven years to seek charges because she wasn’t aware of the John Doe law and didn’t have money to hire an attorney.
The family of Jay Anderson Jr., who was killed by then-Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah in 2016, has used the same John Doe maneuver in hopes of forcing charges. Prosecutors declined to charge Mensah after Mensah said Anderson reached for a gun. Special prosecutors reviewing that case expect to announce a charging decision within the next six weeks.
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