Wauwatosa, WI – The Wauwatosa police officer who was suspended on July 15 after having three justified shootings reached an agreement with the city to resign from its police department effective Nov. 30.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told The Police Tribune this was Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah’s best option and the whole debacle that led to his resignation was a gross example of “cancel culture.”
“He did not do anything wrong,” the source explained. “This agreement completely exonerates him and keeps his record clean and allows him the ability to apply elsewhere. Cancel culture at its finest.”
Officer Mensah, a five-year veteran of the police force, has been the subject of a Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission (PFC) investigation and the target of Black Lives Matter protests in Milwaukee for months.
His third officer-involved shooting resulted in the death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole in February, according to WPR.
Officer Mensah was placed on administrative leave, as is protocol, while the shooting was investigated.
Cole was fatally shot on Feb. 2 when officers responded to the Mayfair Mall for a report of a disturbance and a man with a gun, WDJT reported.
Police said that after a foot chase, Cole fired at officers with a stolen handgun and Officer Mensah returned fire.
Cole was fatally shot.
After that investigation had already begun, the family of the first suspect Officer Mensah had shot four years earlier complained to the city that he was a menace and asked them to re-open the case.
The PFC voted to suspend Officer Mensah in July and assigned a former federal prosecutor to re-investigate the 2016 shooting of Jay Anderson Jr. that had already been declared justified by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
Under pressure from activists, they also passed a non-binding resolution that called for Officer Mensah’s termination and the mayor agreed to sign it, WISN reported.
“I’m signing it today,” Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said at the time. “We understand, it’s not just community pressure, that’s substantial. We hear it. We’ve heard it, but the experts tell us it’s extraordinarily rare, perhaps unique for one officer to be involved in three shootings that result in death while employed, especially in a five-year period.”
“We find that a difficult situation to continue, and we also worry about putting him back on the street because he may be the target of somebody who may be displeased with him,” the mayor added.
Officer Mensah was subjected to months of harassment by protesters, including an attack on him and his Milwaukee police officer girlfriend at her home while her children were inside.
One of the protesters fired a shotgun at the door of the home, barely missing Officer Mensah.
Police ultimately arrested three people who were involved in the shooting and identified the gunman as a member of The People’s Revolution, one of the groups that has organized violent protests in the area.
Meanwhile, the Anderson family kept up the pressure on the PFC and mayor.
The district attorney’s report said that Anderson was fatally shot after Officer Mensah stopped to talk to him when he found his vehicle in the parking lot of Madison Park at 3 a.m. on June 23, 2016.
The report said Officer Mensah saw a handgun that was on the front seat and ordered Anderson to put his hands up, WPR reported.
But Anderson “lunged toward the gun with his right hand,” according to the district attorney.
Officer Mensah opened fire and shot Anderson five times in the head and once in the shoulder, according to WPR.
Wauwatosa police officers do not wear bodycams.
The Andersons’ attorney said that she did not believe he was reaching for his gun, but instead was falling asleep and unable to keep his hands up, citing toxicology results from the autopsy that showed the driver was inebriated, WPR reported.
Anderson’s family claimed they had come forward to demand answers after they learned about Officer Mensah’s involvement in another fatal shooting.
On Oct. 7, the violent protests climbed to a whole new level in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa after the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office announced that the Cole shooting was justified and prosecutors wouldn’t be filing any charges against Officer Mensah, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“In this case I must view all the circumstances that inform the decision by Officer Mensah to use force,” Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm wrote in a letter to Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber on Oct. 7.
“What I can determine from all the evidence is that Alvin Cole was in possession of a stolen 9mm pistol that day. Mr. Cole should not have been in possession of a firearm for any lawful reason which may have been why he fled from police,” the prosecutor wrote.
“He had that pistol concealed in a sling bag that he brought to Mayfair Mall,” Chisholm continued. “He was involved in an argument in the Mall with another patron and displayed the firearm, which again, may be why he fled from police. He was encountered Wauwatosa Police in the parking lot of Mayfair Mall, ran from the police, discharged the firearm and was ordered to surrender the weapon.”
“He did not surrender the weapon and in fact, according to the officers, pointed the weapon at them,” the district attorney added.
“In this case, there is sufficient evidence that Officer Mensah had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary and that belief was objectively reasonable. I do not believe that the State could disprove self-defense or defense of others in this case and therefore could not meet the burden required to charge Officer Mensah,” he concluded.
Shortly after the announcement was made, the district attorney’s office released security video from the mall and dashcam video the parking lot that showed most of what happened after enhancement and analysis with synced audio recordings.
“He did not surrender the weapon and was fired upon by Officer Mensah causing his death,” Chisholm’s summary to the police chief concluded.
But the PFC special investigator’s report concluded that the officer should be fired and said permitting Officer Mensah to remain an officer “creates an extraordinary, unwarranted and unnecessary risk to the Wauwatosa Police Department and the City of Wauwatosa.”
The former federal prosecutor did not, however, recommend any charges against Officer Mensah.
The Wauwatosa Common Council met on Tuesday night in closed session and voted to accept the terms of the separation agreement with Officer Mensah, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
And the mayor put out a press release that said it was time for the city to heal.
As a result of the brouhaha, all Wauwatosa police officers will soon be equipped with bodycams, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The attorney who represents the families of all three of the suspects who were fatally shot by Officer Mensah demanded that the common council disclose the details of the agreement with officer.
“This fight is far from over,” Kimberly Motley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The families of Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson, Jr. and Antonio Gonzales will continue to fight for justice.”