Waukesha, WI – Former Wauwatosa Police Officer Josepha Mensah was sworn into the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department on Monday, just two months after he was forced to resign from a nearby police force because he had three justified shootings.
Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson put out a press release on Jan. 26 that confirmed he had hired the controversial police officer.
“I have extended an employment offer to Mr. Joseph Mensah, which he accepted, for the position of Deputy Sheriff,” Sheriff Severson said in the press release. “Mr. Mensah progressed through an extensive, thorough, and exhaustive hiring process.”
“While some have expressed concerns about Mr. Mensah’s past uses of force, I assembled a team who exhaustively reviewed Mr. Mensah’s previous work history,” the sheriff continued. “I have concluded along with Milwaukee DA, Wauwatosa PD, Milwaukee PD, as well as an independent investigation conducted by the Wauwatosa Police and Fire commission that Mr. Mensah’s use of force was consistent with the Federal and State laws, Wisconsin training and uniformly applied police policy. This is consistent with all other investigations.”
He said now-Waukesha County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Mensah had entered the field training program for his department.
Former Officer Mensah was suspended on July 15, 2020 after having three justified shootings.
Officer Mensah, then a five-year veteran of Wauwatosa Police Department, was the subject of a Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission (PFC) investigation and the target of Black Lives Matter protests in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa 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, 2020 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 ruled 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 had 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 towards the gun 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, 2020, 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, 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 Cole ignored police commands, did not surrender his weapon, and was fatally shot by Officer Mensah, according to the police chief.
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.”
Officer Mensah reached an agreement with the city to resign from its police department effective Nov. 30, 2020 in exchange for a compensation package worth $125,000.
The package took months of negotiations and a lawsuit from the officer after the city committed to getting rid of him, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told The Police Tribune this was the officer’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.”