College Aspirations and Armed Robbery: What We Know so Far in Tony Robinson Shooting

March 9, 2015 Updated: March 9, 2015

The shooting death of Anthony “Tony” Robinson in Wisconsin drew immediate comparisons to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City.

1. What happened?

Robinson, a 19-year-old unarmed black teenager, who was shot to death in a confrontation with a police officer. Robinson was shot Friday by officer Matt Kenny at a Madison home.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval claimed that before the shooting, Robinson was jumping in and out of traffic. Meanwhile, Koval alleged he was responsible for a recent battery, reported ABC News. 

In the incident, Koval said Kenny went to an apartment where he thought Robinson had gone. He heard a commotion inside and went he entered, he got into the altercation with the teen.

Koval said the officer then shot Robinson, who later died in a hospital.

However, mother Andrea Irwin said her son wasn’t a “violent person.” She added, “It baffles me.”

His death sparked protests across Madison on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

2. Robinson was convicted of armed robbery

Robinson had pleaded guilty and was convicted of armed robbery last year. As the Smoking Gun notes, he recently began a three-year probation term to that conviction.

He was arrested in April 2014 following an armed home invasion at a residence in Madison, the website said, citing police records.

A police report said police were called to the scene of the 2014 crime at around 6 a.m. by a local who saw “several men, one of them armed with a long gun, entering an apartment building.” Police arrived on the scene just as the robbery was ending.

Robinson was one of five people who were arrested, and he later pleaded guilty.

He was also a defendant in a paternity action that was filed by a 24-year-old woman over a one-year-old child. “Parties will have joint legal custody; no placement order and no child support order entered as neither party appeared to provide info,” a judge ruled.


3. He’s a recent high school grad planning to go to a technical college

Robinson recently graduated from high school, and according to Michael Johnson–the president of the local Boys & Girls Club–he wanted to attend a technical school.

“He was 19 years old and was about to attend MATC. He graduated from Sun Prairie HS! He was a loving and caring young man according to his grandmother,” Johnson wrote in a Facebook post following his death. “He wanted a business degree.”

Samantha Sorum, a 16-year-old friend of his, told the Badger Herald that “he was going places.” She added, “He was my best friend.”

“I just want everyone to know what Tony was one of the best people I knew,” another friend of his, Jack Spaulding, said at a memorial for the teen, according to CBS News. 

People gather during a rally protesting the shooting death of Tony Robinson, March 7, 2015, in Madison. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)
People gather during a rally protesting the shooting death of Tony Robinson, March 7, 2015, in Madison. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

4. Robinson’s Twitter talked of drugs

Before the shooting, Robinson used Twitter on a regular basis.

He tweeted about using drugs and an ankle monitor he wore after he was released on bond after his arrest, according to the Smoking Gun.

In December, he said on Facebook: “The only things cops are getting trained for is to shoot first and ask questions later.”

He also made posts about the Department of Justice investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri police department.


5. Robinson’s death contrasts with Ferguson killing

Chief Mike Koval said he’s aware Madison is being watched around the U.S. after Robinson’s death.

“Folks are angry, resentful, mistrustful, disappointed, shocked, chagrined. I get that,” Koval said on Saturday. “People need to tell me squarely how upset they are with the Madison Police Department.”

The contrasts with Ferguson are many, however.

While Ferguson police initially gave little information about the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old, unarmed black man, Koval rushed to the home of Robinson’s mother. She didn’t want to meet with him, he said, but he talked and prayed with Robinson’s grandmother in the driveway for 45 minutes.

It took a week for Ferguson to release the name of the officer who shot Brown. Koval announced the name of the officer involved in Madison, Matt Kenny, the day after the shooting. He volunteered to reporters that the officer had been in a previous fatal shooting in 2007, and that he had been cleared of wrongdoing.

On the day that Ferguson police named the officer who shot Brown, they also released video showing what they said was Brown robbing a store. When Koval was asked about Robinson’s past criminal record Saturday, he declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate to do so a day after the man died.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.