Roughly an hour away from Kenosha, Wisconsin, a police shooting has taken place reminiscent of what happened to Jacob Blake just a few months ago. An officer in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin will not face charges in the killing of a Black teenager, according to a local prosecutor.
The decision angered the family of Alvin Cole, who maintains the officer, Joseph Mensah, should be fired, particularly since he has had other fatal shootings in his record according to CNN.
“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,” Cole’s family attorney Kim Motley told reporters on Wednesday (Oct. 7) in regards to Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm’s decision. “He is still getting paid. He’s suspended with pay, and he needs to be removed as an officer immediately.”
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Chisholm wrote in a 14-page statement that Mensah, who is also Black, used “objectively reasonable” force in firing his weapon at the 17-year old Cole. The case stems from a Feb. 2 incident in which Cole was reportedly involved in a conflict with another individual at a local mall. Police say during the argument Cole pulled out a stolen .9mm caliber pistol. When confronted by officers, he ran from them, despite being ordered to drop the gun, and fired it, prompting Mensah to return fire.
“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,” Chisholm wrote.
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Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber defended Mensah, who is on administrative leave, saying that while he sympathizes with Cole’s family, the investigation was done correctly.
“The administration of justice demands a legal and purposeful review of the facts. That was done in this case,” said Weber, according to CNN. “Police officers are put into difficult situations that require a decision to be made in fractions of seconds.”
But an independent investigation agreed with Cole’s family, determining that Mensah should be fired based on his history.
“The risk and ensuing consequences to the Wauwatosa Police Department and the City of Wauwatosa of a fourth shooting by this Officer are too great for this Commission to find otherwise,” wrote Steven Biskupic, the investigator hired by the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission.
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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 shot dead Jay Anderson Jr., in 2016 and Antonio Gonzales in 2015 in other incidents. He was cleared by Chisholm of criminal wrongdoing in those cases as wekk and faced no internal discipline.
Cole’s sister, Taleavia Cole, denied that her brother fired a weapon at Mensah and agreed that he should be fired. She also criticized Chisholm’s decision.
“The fight continues. It doesn’t end here,” she said, according to local Milwaukee station WTMJ. “It’s time for D.A. Chisholm to retire or step down.”
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