Madison TV broadcast fans flames in police shooting

A Madison, Wisc., family can no longer stay in their home because of death threats, and it’s a local TV station’s fault.

Tony Robinson, who was African American, was killed by a white Madison police officer during an incident in early March.

WISC-TV posted a 911 call from his mother to police about Robinson’s emotional state weeks before the shooting, according to Madison.com.

Just one problem. The phone call included the family’s address and phone number.

“We’ve had people banging on our patio doors or throwing things at our house,” Andrea Irwin, Robinson’s mother said. “As the tension builds it gets worse and worse.”

The family is now bouncing between hotels.

The station’s news director, Colin Benedict, apologized.

“We understand there is extreme interest in this story and try to provide as much unfiltered information as possible, but we did not do our due diligence before releasing the audio recording and should have redacted the personal information in question,” Benedict wrote in an editor’s note posted with the apology. “We regret the mistake and have apologized to the family. We also apologize to our viewers and readers.”

Local TV often broadcasts 911 calls to dramatize a story that doesn’t need dramatizing. But this one came at a price.

It’s hard, ‘cause I don’t have any money left,” Irwin said. She has taken unpaid leave from her job working in family services and doesn’t know when she will have the capacity to return to her work as a case manager.

“I’m paying for all this stuff and I’m broke,” she said. “My engine blew up in my car and we’re now displaced out of our home because we’re not safe there anymore because Channel 3 thought that was OK to do.”