Wisconsin Public Radio

Tosa Officer That Killed Three People Suspended

Wauwatosa's Police and Fire Commission suspends officer Joseph Mensah.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jul 16th, 2020 11:24 am
Police. Photo by Highway Patrol Images / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Police. Photo by Highway Patrol Images / (CC BY)

The Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to suspend police officer Joseph Mensahwho has fatally shot three men of color while on duty in five years.

The commission considered testimony based on the second fatal shooting, that of Jay Anderson, Jr., before making their decision. Mensah has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Milwaukee District Attorney in the Anderson case.

The hearing Wednesday was to decide if Mensah broke Wauwatosa Police Department rules or protocol in the Anderson case. They found he did.

“I think that the families feel a little better that he is suspended, which is good, but until he is completely off the force, we are not going to stop fighting,” said Kimberly Motley, the attorney who represents the Anderson family, along with the other two families involved the Mensah shooting cases.

Mensah will still be paid while on suspension.

In Anderson’s case, surveillance video from an elementary school shows him driving into Madison Park in Wauwatosa at 1:37 a.m. and parking his car. About an hour and a half later, Mensah approached the vehicle, tapping on the passenger side window.

According to the DA’s report, Mensah noticed Anderson, 25, had a handgun in the front passenger seat while the men were speaking.

Mensah drew his weapon and ordered Anderson to put his hands up. Anderson raised his hands, but according to the report “on at least four occasions Mr. Anderson started to lower his right arm while leaning toward the front passenger seat where the gun was located.”

According to the report, Anderson “lunged toward the gun with his right hand,” and Mensah shot him five times in the head and once in the right shoulder.

“Officer Mensah says Jay reached for his gun, we don’t agree with that,” Motley said. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office also cleared Mensah of charges in the case of Antonio Gonzales, whom Mensah and his partner fatally shot in July 2015. Gonzales, 29, was wielding a sword.

Friends and family have said the weapon was decorative.

Most recently, Mensah fatally shot 17-year-old Alvin Cole in a mall parking lot on Feb. 2.

Police say Cole fired a gun at them before the shooting. The case is still under review by the DA’s office.

On June 18, Motley, the attorney for the shooting victims’ families, filed a complaint with the Police and Fire Commission seeking Mensah’s termination. The group had 30 days to respond.

“We’re still waiting on our 35 open records requests, which we filed June 18, which doesn’t make sense, but we are going to be on (the city of Wauwatosa) about that,” Motley said. “We’ve filed new complaints. And in addition to that, we have the criminal matter, regarding Alvin Cole, and we believe there is a basis to charge Mensah with homicide.”

Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber asked the commissioners to allow Mensah to remain on administrative leave, with pay, until the Cole investigation was complete.

On Tuesday, the Wauwatosa Common Council voted to fire Mensah, but it was an advisory vote. The Police and Fire Commission is the only body that can make the decision.

The Police and Fire Commission is an independent body appointed by the Wauwatosa mayor that makes hiring and firing decisions for the Police Department.

Wauwatosa Officer Who Fatally Shot 3 Men Of Color Suspended was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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