The Dane County District Attorney has declined to file charges against Matt Smiley, the former Middleton Goodwill supervisor who was facing felony battery charges after he says a man used racial slurs against him.
As we reported exclusively Thursday morning, Smiley was working June 30 when he had to inform a donor that a piece of furniture couldn’t be accepted because it was too “beat up.” The man asked to speak to the supervisor, and when Smiley informed him that he was the supervisor, the man said, “You know what? That sounds about right, though. Goodwill will hire a n***** as a supervisor.” Smiley said the confrontation escalated until the man dove into the cab of his truck, and Smiley felt the need to physically detain the man, worried that he was reaching for a gun.
Police referred a charge of substantial battery against Smiley because the man had a loose tooth, and Smiley was forced to resign from his job. An online fundraiser raised over $14,000 to help him retain a defense attorney.
But a representative of the Dane County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Thursday that the office had decided Wednesday to decline the case and not pursue charges.
“I was trying to reserve my emotions for the actual journey, but now that it seems that it is over, just relief. I feel relieved,” Smiley said Thursday after being informed of the decision by a Madison365 reporter.
According to a voicemail message left for Smiley by a Middleton police officer, Middleton police are continuing their investigation and considering charges against the customer.
Smiley said the experience has motivated him to become more outspoken on issues of racial justice.
“I see now that I can’t be silent. I may not jump on the front lines, but I definitely just can’t be silent about stuff like this,” he said. “I’m still going to be quiet as a church mouse, but I just want to work towards that direction. If anybody I can help in any situation that I was in, I’m going to break my neck to do it, because a lot of people helped me in this situation.”
Sara Knutson, a family friend who organized the online fundraiser, posted on Facebook Thursday that refunds would be given to those donors who ask for them, but also noted that Smiley is still out of work.
Smiley also said the first priority would be to give refunds to anyone who wanted them, but that he hoped some donations would remain to help the family through until he gets a new job. And if there are any donated funds left over, “I think I’ll find some cause here in Madison, some social justice cause. And I’ll donate a portion of that money to them,” Smiley said.