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Non-profit tries to jam Madison Police chief’s phone line with demands for officer’s firing

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MADISON (WKOW) -- In the wake of the guilty verdicts for a former police officer in the case of the murder of George Floyd, a non-profit group tried to jam the police chief's phone line with calls for the ouster of a Madison police officer.

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Freedom, Inc.'s Bianca Gomez says at least 100 people Wednesday placed phone calls to Chief Shon Barnes and urged his firing of Officer Matt Kenny, who fatally shot an unarmed biracial teen, Tony Robinson, in 2015.

Kenny was deemed to have been justified in his use of deadly force and while removed from patrol duty, received no workplace reprimand.

Barnes declined to comment Wednesday on what Freedom, Inc. called its phone jam.  But earlier this year, Barnes told 27 News there would be no revisit of Kenny's job status unless new information surfaced.

"The chief is proving he's on the side of white supremacy and the status quo," Gomez said.

Activists maintain Kenny was untruthful about his encounter with Robinson.  Kenny and Robinson came upon each other in an apartment stairwell with no witnesses present, and Kenny says Robinson attacked him before Kenny shot him.  Records show police responded to the location after Robinson was reported to have been acting erratically, running into traffic and assaulting a bystander.

Any action to terminate Kenny would have to go through the Madison Police and Fire Commission, although Barnes could lodge a complaint and request such an outcome.  

"If the chief of police no longer wanted Matt Kenny to be a police officer under him ... he could make that happen," Gomez says.

Kenny also fatally shot another suspect in 2007.  In that case, authorities said the victim, 48, called 911 and pretended to be a witness to someone wielding a gun threateningly and brought officers to his location.  Kenny shot the man, who refused to drop what turned out to be a pellet gun and pointed it at Kenny.  The victim was white.

Robinson's family received a more than $3 million settlement from the city of Madison after a lawsuit was filed over the 19-year-old's death.

"Officer Matt Kenny murdered Tony Robinson in 2015 and he has not been held accountable," Gomez says.

After Robinson's death, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne reviewed what happened and concluded there was no homicide or any other crime committed by Kenny.

Gomez says Robinson's mother was aware of the phone call effort to demand Barnes fire Kenny.  She was unavailable for comment.

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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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