The investigation begins over 10 years before the fateful night on March 6 when Officer Matt Kenny shot and killed unarmed Tony Robinson, Jr. Early in his stint with the Madison Police Department, Matt Kenny was noted by other officers as the one who rarely waited for backup and preferred to go it alone. This would become relevant in 2007 and again on the night he killed Tony. In 2007, Matt Kenny killed a man wielding an unloaded pellet gun–an event that would win Kenny Madison’s top honor, the Medal of Valor. During the 2007 shooting, which would eventually become ruled a “suicide by cop”, Officer Kenny ignored calls from his backup to ‘take cover’ and acted as if he was the only officer on the scene. Dashcam footage and forensic maps illustrate that Kenny charged the suicidal man instead of taking cover behind his vehicle like the other officers on the scene. On the night he killed Tony, Kenny arrived at the unlit home on Willy St. and enters even while backup is arriving and asking Kenny to wait. The pattern of being a maverick and choosing to ‘go it alone’ escalates the engagement, increases risks to all involved, and eliminates the use of other non-lethal means like a taser because they require backup to be present.
The above example is just one of many points of concern raised in the film “19”. During our investigation, we were able to interview witnesses close to the scene who were never interviewed by the official investigators and gather records never requested by other media outlets or the investigators themselves. Perhaps what is most enlightening, if not alarming, is what happens after the shooting, beginning with the actions of police at the University of Wisconsin Hospital emergency room. Tony’s family, including his mother and father, were not allowed to see their son and were eventually locked out of the hospital by a wall of armed police officers (the reason given was that Tony’s body was “evidence”). Tony’s mother Andrea was separated from the rest of her family and she sat alone with an officer and social worker while other family members like her mother Sharon tried desperately to get to her. Hours after Tony’s family arrived at the hospital, they were not told of his status or that he was killed by a police officer. Instead they were told by the police that “they would get to the bottom of this”; the family had to learn it was a death-by-cop on a news website three hours after the shooting. One witness who worked the emergency room that night came forward anonymously to describe the horrors and cruelty the worker observed–having “never seen anything so mean”.
While we try to provide as many answers as we can, “19” raises many more questions–especially about the formal investigation and the District Attorney’s decision not to indict Officer Matt Kenny. In the DA’s press conference and written statement, he provides a point-by-point rationale for his decision. We show you these “facts” a midst a cloud of doubt by the investigators, witnesses, and forensic specialists who worked on the investigation.