A Wauwatosa Cop Has Killed 3 People in the Last 5 Years. The City Council Wants Him Fired.

A Wauwatosa Cop Has Killed 3 People in the Last 5 Years. The City Council Wants Him Fired.


By Jonathon Sadowski

July 15, 2020

Officer Joseph Mensah most recently killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole in February.

Officer Joseph Mensah most recently killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole in February.

The Wauwatosa City Council voted 13-1 Tuesday night to endorse the firing of Officer Joseph Mensah, who has killed three people in the past five years.

The vote, first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, came after calls from activists to fire Mensah, who shot and killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole on Feb. 2 outside Mayfair Mall in the Milwaukee suburb of about 48,000. Mensah has received national attention amid mass protests for police reform, garnering coverage in the Wall Street Journal and a push for prosecution from rapper Jay-Z’s social justice organization.

Wauwatosa council members took the vote after four hours in closed session, WUWM reports.

The vote does not guarantee Mensah, who is currently on desk duty, will be fired. Only Police Chief Barry Weber or the Police and Fire Commission can make the final decision. The Police and Fire Commission meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday to take action on complaints filed against Mensah.

Mayor Dennis McBride told WUWM that Wednesday’s Police and Fire Commission meeting will be akin to a courtroom trial and that public comment will not be allowed.

According to documents filed with the commission, Mensah’s first fatal shooting was on July 16, 2015, when he shot Antonio Gonzalez, a 28-year-old mentally ill man who was brandishing a sword. 

Less than a year later on June 23, 2016, Mensah shot 25-year-old Jay Anderson Jr. six times in the head and neck; Anderson had fallen asleep in his car with a gun lying on the passenger seat. The document, filed by attorneys representing the shooting victims’ families, says Anderson was complying with his hands up and that he never reached for the gun before Mensah shot him.

“Wauwatosa is not a crime-ridden community,” said Kimberly Motley, the attorney representing the Cole, Anderson, and Gonzalez families. “So for him to kill that many people in that short of a time reflects on him as an officer, and reflects on his leaders.”

Mensah is the only Wauwatosa cop to have killed anyone in the last five years, according to the Journal Sentinel.

“This guy is clearly an outlier,” Motley said.

Motley said she does not expect Mensah to be fired immediately on Wednesday but hopes he is immediately suspended and barred from carrying a weapon.

The killings of Anderson and Gonzalez were ruled to be self-defense, but the Milwaukee County District Attorney is still reviewing Cole’s death. There is no body camera footage of any of the shootings because the Wauwatosa Police Department does not currently have them for all officers.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the Wauwatosa Common Council called it “imperative … for the interests of all parties” to fire Mensah “as quickly as possible.”

“Doing nothing is not an option,” the council said.

As protests have mounted, the Wauwatosa Police Department has arrested some demonstrators outside Mayfair, according to the Wisconsin Examiner. Cole’s sister told the Examiner that a police captain informed her the protests were now considered violent, even though there is no documented evidence of violence at the marches.

This story has been updated to reflect that attorney Kimberly Motley is also representing the Gonzalez family.


Related Stories
Share This