Sheriff claims he had an “exhaustive hiring process.”
Joseph Mensah, the former Wauwatosa police officer who resigned in November and took a $125,000 separation package after killing three people within five years, was sworn in Monday as a sheriff’s deputy in neighboring Waukesha County.
Severson claimed he swore Mensah in as a deputy after “an extensive, thorough, and exhaustive hiring process.”
Mensah, who is Black, left the Wauwatosa Police Department amid intense scrutiny over his killings of three men of color—one in 2015, another in 2016, and the final in February 2020. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm did not file charges in any of the killings.
“I have concluded along with the 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,” Severson wrote in his statement.
However, Severson did not note that the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission’s independent investigator, former US Attorney Steven Biskupic, recommended Mensah’s firing because the possibility of Mensah killing a fourth person posed “an extraordinary, unwarranted, and unnecessary risk to the Wauwatosa Police Department and the City of Wauwatosa.”
Nor did Severson make note of the fact that, according to Biskupic’s report, Mensah violated department policy by lying to the media about the shootings and giving public statements about ongoing investigations.
Mensah was the only Wauwatosa police officer to have killed anyone in the last five years, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Severson appears to have tried to keep Mensah’s hiring quiet. He has posted messages of congratulations to new deputies on Facebook for several years. On Monday, the same day Mensah was sworn in, the sheriff’s department posted a message of congratulations to another newly sworn-in deputy–but that post did not mention or picture Mensah.