The house where Tony Robinson was killed (right) is cordoned off on Williamson Street.
On the last day of his life, Tony Robinson had hoped to make a spiritual journey.
He asked his grandmother, Sharon Irwin, to "cleanse" him earlier in the day, says Turin Carter, who is Irwin's son and Tony's uncle. She burned sage and drew a bath with sea salt for her grandson.
What his family didn't know is that Robinson's journey involved taking hallucinogenic mushrooms.
"It was a terrible choice," Carter says, adding that Robinson was inexperienced with the drug.
Carter confirms what's been reported in other media — attributed to anonymous sources — that Robinson had been high on mushrooms the night that he was killed by a Madison police officer.
The state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the Robinson shooting. DOJ spokeswoman Anne Schwartz could not provide a toxicology report on Wednesday.
An adverse reaction to the mushrooms may have caused Robinson's behavior on March 6, when he reportedly attacked two people and ran out into traffic on Willy Street.
"Recreational use of hallucinogenic drugs can cause disturbances in orientation of self, perception and cognition," says Adam Schroeder, a substance abuse counselor and program manager with Community Partnerships, which serves individuals with mental health issues. "Violent behavior might be an aggressive response to anger, or it could be a natural defensive response to disturbed perception."
The dangers of substance use can be compounded by inexperience, Schroeder adds. "A person who is using a hallucinogen for the first time trusts others as far as dosing and the potential effects," he says. "They believe that it will be fun, the effects will wear off, the consequences will be few and they won't be the guy who loses his life."
Robinson reacted badly to the drug. Fearing for his safety and unable to handle his reaction, his friends called 911 to get him help.
It's unclear from the police radio transmissions whether or not authorities knew Robinson was under the influence of drugs, but the Madison Police Department has a special Mental Health Liaison program.
"Because it is impossible to predict when and where a mental health crisis may erupt, the Madison Police Department trains each and every officer to respond to persons with mental illness with compassion, to utilize appropriate communication/de-escalation skills, and to work collaboratively toward an effective resolution," the program pamphlet states.
Carter has said repeatedly that he respects law enforcement and trusts officials to investigate the shooting fairly and thoroughly. But he is angry that Robinson was shot by a police officer instead of treated by a medic.
"In society, don't we want our children to be able to call for help when a situation has gone wrong?" he asks.