Wauwatosa, Wisc. is in a state of unrest after the news went wide that a Black teenager shot and killed by a Black city police officer with a record of fatalities. Alvin Cole, 17, was shot and killed this past February outside of a shopping mall but reports say Officer Joseph Mensah acted in self-defense despite doubts from observes outside the force.
Mensah, who has recorded three fatalities over the past five years and never faced discipline, was cleared of wrongdoing by Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm, who wrote in a letter to Wauwatosa Police Department Chief Barry Weber that his office detailed that there was “sufficient evidence” Officer Mensah was in rights to use deadly force in the February 2 shooting incident in the parking lot of Mayfair Mall.
“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. With this I conclude my criminal review of the matter,” Chisholm wrote in the letter, which was sent Wednesday (Oct. 7) to Chief Weber.
A report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel highlights that Mensah shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016, and Antonio Gonzales in 2015. An independent investigator examined Mensah’s file, recommending that he be fired from his post.
Protests erupted across Wauwatosa, a predominantly-white city west of Milwaukee, with officials placing a 7:00 p.m. curfew in place that extends until next Monday. Around 100 marchers took to the streets in protest and blocked off a major freeway at the height of its rush hour.
Cole’s family attorney Kim Motley told a media throng that they were alerted of Chisolm’s decision after meeting with him yesterday, but maintains that it wasn’t stated that Cole’s death or Mensah’s reaction was the proper course.
“We’ve always maintained that Officer Joseph Mensah should be held accountable for his actions, and unfortunately today, we disagree with Chisholm’s assessment of what he saw,” Motley said after Chisolm’s decision was made public not to charge Mensah.
Cole was shot and killed after police responded to a disturbance call with reports saying that Cole brandished a reportedly stolen 9mm handgun and fired upon the responders who then returned fire, killing the teenager. Cole reportedly flashed the weapon during an argument inside the mall, leading to onlookers alerting the authorities.
Chief Weber said in a statement that he, “sympathizes with his family as they, and others, continue to grieve the loss of their loved one.”