Woman Afraid to Stay at Home, Blames Station for Airing Address

By Kevin Eck 

A Madison, Wisconsin woman says she’s afraid to stay in her house after CBS affiliate WISC released 9-1-1 tapes revealing personal information like her address and phone number.

Andrea Irwin‘s son Tony Robinson was shot and killed by a Madison police officer on March 6. His death sparked rallies and protests from some in Madison supporting Robinson, which, The Capital Times says, caused some to aim threats and negative comments at Irwin and her family.

WISC posted audio from Irwin’s call to police about her son’s mental state before the shooting in a story to its website.  In the call, Irwin’s home address and phone number are revealed.

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

WISC-TV news director Colin Benedict said the station took the audio down within hours and apologized for releasing the full call without redaction.

“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.”

For Irwin, that apology was not enough. Between threats and that release of information, she no longer feels safe staying at her home with her three kids. She plans to move, but for now, they’re living out of hotels. Her kids’ schools are working to coordinate cab rides for them because they’re removed from regular bus routes and some friends are helping Irwin with rides or picking her kids up from school.

“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.”