Wauwatosa, WI –The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah for the February officer-involved fatal shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole.
The Wisconsin National Guard was seen outside of Mayfair Mall in preparation to support law enforcement in case of rioting, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“This case is reviewed as a homicide and I apply the same standard of review to this case as I would to any homicide,” Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said in a statement, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The standard is to determine in our professional judgment if there is sufficient admissible evidence to convince the trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Mensah killed Alvin Cole unlawfully.”
“Under Wisconsin law, any time self-defense or defense of others is at issue, and it is clearly at issue here, I have an obligation to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force was not objectively reasonable and, that at the time the force was used, Officer Mensah did not subjectively believe he faced a threat of death or great bodily harm or his belief was not objectively reasonable from the perspective of a trained police officer,” Chisholm explained.
Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber said that the police department agreed with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office’s decision and called their investigation a “legal and purposeful review of the facts” in a statement he made to the media immediately following the announcement.
Chief Weber said there was an ongoing internal review of the Feb. 2 incident and said he did not know when it would be completed.
The chief told reporters that in the meantime the department was making strides toward improving itself and had posted all of the police policies and procedures to its website, implemented implicit bias training for all officers, and initiated the purchase of bodycams for every officer.
He said that Officer Mensah would remain suspended since July being because of another ongoing investigation launched by the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission.
The commission hired former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic to conduct an independent investigation into Officer Mensah, who was previously cleared in the 2016 justified shooting of Jay Anderson Jr., after Anderson’s family filed a complaint calling for the officer’s termination.
The officer has been the shooter in three officer-involved shootings in the past five years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office ruled that the fatal shooting of Anderson and the fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzalez in 2015 were both justified self-defense.
The third officer-involved shooting resulted in the death of Alvin Cole in February and the commission’s independent investigation led to no charges by the district attorney on Oct. 7.
Linda Anderson said the family felt compelled to come forward when they saw the same officer who had shot her son had killed someone else.
The same lawyers are representing the families of Anderson, Gonzalez, and Cole.
At the virtual meeting of the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission (PFC) on July 15, attorney Kimberly Motley called for the termination of Officer Mensah on behalf of the Anderson family, WISN reported.
Motley said accused the officer of having violated the police department’s code of ethics.
Anderson’s family wants to see Officer Mensah fired and prosecuted, WPR reported.
The five-year veteran of the Wauwatosa police force, who is black, has been the focus of Black Lives Matter protests in Milwaukee and was attacked at his girlfriend’s home by violent protesters.
Although Biskupic’s report to the police and fire commission did not lead to criminal charges for Officer Mensah, he did recommend that the officer be terminated, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The former prosecutor said in his report that permitting Officer Mensah to remain an officer “creates an extraordinary, unwarranted and unnecessary risk to the Wauwatosa Police Department and the City of Wauwatosa.”
He said that Officer Mensah had made “inconsistent and misleading” public statements that would compromise his ability to testify about the shootings in court, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Activists were outraged that Officer Mensah wasn’t immediately charged and pointed out that, thus far, the district attorney hasn’t actually used the word “justified” to describe the Cole shooting.
However, a justified shooting is a shooting where there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.