The police chief of Wauwatosa, Wis., where a Black teenager was shot and killed by a police officer earlier this year says there is no reason to terminate the African-American officer, although the city’s police and fire commission are considering ending his employment.
Alvin Cole, 17, was killed in a Feb. 2 incident in which Officer Joseph Mensah confronted him at a mall in the Milwaukee suburb on suspicion of gun possession. The teen reportedly did not drop his gun when ordered by Mensah, and the officer fired fatal shots at him. Milwaukee County district attorney John T. Chisholm said in a statement that he determined Mensah used “objectively reasonable” force.
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But the commission hired a former U.S. Attorney, Steven Biskupic, to investigate the case and he recommended that Mensah lose his job because of his history of shootings, the Associated Press reported. Over the course of the past five years Mensah has killed three people, including Cole, while in the line of duty.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mensah also fatally wounded Jay Anderson Jr., in 2016 and Antonio Gonzales in 2015. He was cleared by Chisholm of criminal wrongdoing in those cases as well and faced no internal discipline.
Bikuspic, whose report was provided to the AP by Cole’s family attorney, Kimberly Motley, recommended Mensah’s firing because he posed “an extraordinary, unwarranted and unnecessary risk.”
But police chief Barry Weber, who has defended Mensah in the past, reiterated that he felt the officer acted within the law.
“I’ve never heard of any police officer ever being disciplined for something they may or may not do in the future,” he said. “Joseph Mensah’s been cleared by the district attorney in three different cases. There’s been no reason to this point, and none that I can see, (for why) he should be removed from the force.”
Motley blasted Weber’s point, however, saying Mensah is “unfit” to be a policeman and even says the chief himself should be fired.
“I think that the position of the chief is another reason why he needs to be terminated as well,” Motley said. “Joseph Mensah is not credible and neither is Chief Weber.”
Mensah’s clearing of wrongdoing sparked several nights of protests in Wauwatosa. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested on Thursday night (Oct. 8). Cole’s mother, Tracy was one of those violently taken into police custody.
Hip-hop impresario Jay-Z, and his social justice platform Team Roc, reportedly paid an undisclosed amount to bail her and daughters Taleavia, Tristiana and Tahudah out, as well as several others who were arrested. Team Roc claims Tracy was injured after officers used “excessive force” during the arrests.
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