MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The unarmed black man who died at the hands of a white Wisconsin police officer suffered from attention deficit disorder and tended to be an impulsive risk-taker, court documents show.
Documents connected to 19-year-old Tony Robinson’s conviction last year for armed robbery show he was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and depression, and was prone to boredom and anger.
Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny shot Robinson on Friday night after responding to a call that Robinson was jumping in and out of traffic and had assaulted someone. Kenny broke into an apartment where Robinson had gone after hearing what police described as a “disturbance” and shot Robinson after police say he assaulted the officer.
The state Justice Department’s Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the probe into the shooting as per a new state law that requires outside agencies to investigate officer-involved shootings. A DOJ spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email Monday seeking comment on the investigation. A final report is likely weeks, if not months, away.
According to a criminal complaint in the armed robbery, Robinson was among a group of five people who staged a home invasion robbery in Madison in April 2014 in hopes of finding marijuana and money.
Police captured Robinson as he fled the apartment. He told investigators he carried a BB-gun pistol with him during the robbery and stole a TV and an Xbox 360 from the apartment. Judge Josann Reynolds sentenced him to three years’ probation in December.
A call to Robinson’s mother and grandmother’s home on Monday rang unanswered. The robbery case file includes a letter from his grandmother, Sharon Irwin, to the judge asking to sentence Robinson to probation, saying he’s impulsive.
“He didn’t want to go yet did it anyway,” she wrote. “That is one of his issues. Impulsive. The other is being a follower.”
His attorney in the armed robbery, Michael J. Short, wrote in a memo to the judge seeking a shorter probation term that Robinson had taken special education classes.
“He was an easy choice for the seasoned co-defendants to manipulate into participation,” Short wrote.
His aunt, Loren Carter, wrote a note to the judge asking for mercy in sentencing. She wrote that Robinson grew up poor without his father but was a “kind-hearted, incredibly intelligent young man with hopes and dreams to become successful and to move forward in life.”
The Robinson shooting is the latest in a string of incidents of white police officers killing unarmed black men around the country over the last year, including in Ferguson, Missouri, where white Officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. The shooting sparked weeks of riots.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval, who is white, has been trying to strike a conciliatory tone with the city’s black community, calling Robinson’s death a tragedy and even going so far as praying with Robinson’s grandmother in her driveway hours after the shooting.
Scores of people, mostly high school students, gathered on the steps of the Capitol Monday, holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice No Peace.” They chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and Robinson’s name.
Latay Carter, 15, walked out of class at Madison West High School to join the rally.
“It’s unfair,” Carter said. “He didn’t deserve to die.”
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