Madison, Wis. settles police shooting of unarmed man for $3.35 million

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 23, 2017 2:49 PM

(Reuters) - The family of a biracial man who was fatally shot while unarmed by a white police officer has settled a lawsuit against the city of Madison, Wisconsin, for $3.35 million, according to their lawyers.

Tony Robinson was 19 when he was fatally shot by Matthew Kenny, the police officer, in March 2015 at an apartment building where he had been visiting friends. His death was one of a series of police killings that drove nationwide protests against the use of excessive force by U.S. police against non-whites.

Friends had called the police saying Robinson was behaving strangely and had been running without his shirt into traffic. Kenny, the first police officer to arrive at the apartment, said that Robinson punched him in the head several times on a stairway and that he shot him several times out of fear for his safety. A criminal investigation exonerated Kenny of wrongdoing.

The family disputed the police account and sued for damages, saying the police had violated Robinson's civil rights. The case had been due to go before a jury later this month.

The settlement of $3.35 million was the largest ever for a police-shooting lawsuit in Wisconsin, according to a Loevy & Loevy, the Chicago law firm representing Robinson's family, which announced the settlement in a statement.

The family was due to address reporters on Thursday afternoon.

The Madison Police Department said in a statement that Police Chief Mike Koval stood behind his officer, who now works in the department's training section, and the department was not involved in the settlement negotiations.

"Chief Koval and other department leaders had hoped the civil case would proceed to trial so Officer Kenny could be cleared in this additional venue," the department said, "however they understand that attorneys, insurance providers and risk managers have reached a business decision based on factors other than the actual facts of the case."

Michael May, Madison's city attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Andrew Hay)