Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Change is needed in wake of the Tony Robinson decision

Decision by Ozanne was proper, but feeling of disgust remains

Madison is torn over the decision not to pursue charges against a police officer who killed a young man just a few short months ago.

Tony Robinson, who was shot after an altercation with Officer Matt Kenny, was shot and killed after several 911 calls were made following erratic behavior on his part, apparently due to drugs that were in his system at the time.

Kenny, who felt threatened and was attacked by Robinson, shot the teen seven times.

There are good arguments about what should be done on both sides. Given the strict information of the case, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne determined that no charges should be filed against the officer.

I’m inclined to agree with that decision. But that doesn’t mean that changes shouldn’t be made, or that Tony Robinson deserved to die that night. I support what Ozanne has said, but that doesn’t mean I am any less frustrated with what has transpired.

Aaron Camp, who blogs at the Progressive Midwesterner, made some pretty astute points in his recent post on this issue:
If you’re wondering why Kenny did not use a taser in order to stop Robinson without killing him, that’s because of an absurd policy in Madison that prohibits law enforcement officers from using a taser except when another officer is present at the scene. Madison’s taser policy should be amended to allow for officers to use tasers to stop suspects without another officer being present, and similar policies in other jurisdictions should be amended as well.
Amending that policy would be a great start. But it shouldn’t end there.

Community leaders and law enforcement need to look over the entire policy on when lethal force should be used by officers. Dialogues have started between Police Chief Michael Koval and other leaders. They ought to continue, and a reasonable course of action should result from this tragic incident.

I remain disgusted at several comments I read on Twitter and elsewhere on this issue. Many of these comments make it very clear that racism, in Madison and beyond, remains a silent problem in our society. With race inequality being what it is -- in both Madison and the state of Wisconsin -- we can’t sit by and watch things get worse, and call it “progress.”

We need to tackle these problems. We need systemic change in our city, and beyond its jurisdiction as well.

1 comment:

  1. Matt Kenny is the kind of concerned, idealistic, educated police officer that we need. I wish the news media would stop demonizing him.