City News

MPD chief: Tony Robinson settlement not ‘admission of guilt’

Police Chief Mike Koval expressed Friday MPD’s discontent with the historic settlement reached in the Tony Robinson case last week, highlighting that it should not be seen as an “admission of guilt.”

Image By: Cong Gao

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval echoed the discontent of the city’s police union leaders, asserting that the $3.35 million settlement last week paid to the family of Tony Robinson by the city’s insurer was not an admission of guilt.

The federal civil rights lawsuit was brought by the family of Tony Robinson, an unarmed teenager who was shot and killed after an altercation with Madison Police Department Officer Matt Kenny in March 2015. This is the largest police shooting settlement in the state’s history.

“Expressed indignation from the Robinson legal team promoting the notion that no one settles unless they think they are about to lose is a gate that swings both ways,” Koval said in a statement released Friday, refuting the assertion that the police department settled because they knew they were fighting a losing battle. “The Madison Police Department was ready to go to court and that decision was made for us, not by us.”

Koval claimed he took issue not with the settlement itself, but instead with a press conference held by attorneys for the Robinson family. He claimed the attorneys “cherry-picked” facts to imply that the settlement meant the city was at fault. The plaintiff’s attorneys raised the possibility of legal action against Kenny, who is currently in a training position and has not returned to active duty.

“In his written opinion, Judge Peterson noted that he granted the City's removal because ‘plaintiff [Robinson estate] cannot establish that there was a policy or widespread practice of shoddy investigation of officer-involved shootings,” Koval said. “Or that the City was aware of and deliberately indifferent to a problem with those investigations.”

The settlement did not include any admission of liability for injury on either side.

Koval’s statement capped a contentious week of debate over whether Kenny should remain part of the MPD. Critics have also called for federal authorities to investigate the internal assessment conducted by the police department following the shooting. MPD’s assessment found no wrongdoing either by Kenny or by the city.

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