biographical data

Joseph Mensah biography: 13 things about black cop from Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Joseph Mensah (©Wauwatosa Police Department)

Joseph Mensah (©Wauwatosa Police Department)

Joseph A. Mensah is an African-American police officer in Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States. He killed Antonio Gonzales, Jay Anderson Jr. and Alvin Cole in the line of duty in 2015, 2016 and 2020, respectively.

Anderson and Cole are both African-American while Gonzalez is Hispanic. Here are 13 more things about Mensah:

  1. The Wauwatosa Police Department hired him in January 2015.
  2. He was 25 years old when he joined the Wauwatosa Police Department.
  3. On July 16, 2015, he and his fellow Wauwatosa Police Department officer Jeffrey Newman responded to a 911 call from a homeowner who shares a house with Gonzales in Wauwatosa. Intoxicated, Gonzalez swung a sword and refused to drop it. He shot Gonzales eight times and the latter died at the scene. He and Newman were placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
  4. He responded to a report of suspicious vehicle parked outside Madison Park in Wauwatosa around 3 a.m. on June 23, 2016. He saw Anderson was sleeping inside the vehicle and a semi-automatic handgun on the front seat. When asked to raise his hands, Anderson reached for the gun. Fearing for his safety, he fired his gun into the car six times and killed Anderson.
  5. In December 2016, Milwaukee County district attorney John Chisholm cleared him of the fatal shooting of Anderson and announced that he would not face any charges.
  6. On February 2, 2020, he was one of the Wauwatosa Police Department officers who responded to a call from the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa involving an incident involving a person who had a gun, who was later identified as Cole. When the cops tried to arrest Cole, he ran away and accidentally shot his left arm in the west parking lot of the mall. He fired five rapid succession rounds at Cole because the latter refused to surrender his gun and instead pointed it in the cops’ direction. Cole was sent to the hospital where he died.
  7. In the evening of July 15, 2020, five members of the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission voted to suspend him with pay. The commissioners also voted to hire Steven M. Biskupic of the law firm Biskupic & Jacobs, SC to conduct an independent investigation into the claims filed against him, Patch reported.
  8. On July 16, 2020, his brothers Christopher Mensah and John Mensah organized a GoFundMe page to raise funds for his legal fees. It exceeded its goal of $50,000 in less than two weeks. Among the top donors were the Greenfield Police Association and New Berlin Professional Police Association.
  9. Speaking about the shootings of Gonzales, Anderson and Cole, he told WISN radio host Dan O’Donnell on July 28, 2020 that he fired his weapon in self-defense. It was the first time he spoke publicly about the shootings. He told the host that the common denominator of the three incidents was that in every single one, the suspect was armed and for him, it was unfair to call him a murderer without any conviction and charges. He said, “They knew all about this in 2016. They didn’t have an issue with it in 2017. They didn’t have an issue with it back in 2018. They didn’t have an issue in 2019. Now, it’s 2020. Let’s just suspend him for no reason.”
  10. Around 50 armed Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside his girlfriend’s house in Wauwatosa at around 8:00 p.m. on August 8, 2020 while he was there, according to the Wauwatosa Police Department. In the morning of August 9, 2020, he wrote on Facebook, “Last night, protesters came to my girlfriend’s house while I was there, and tried to kill me. I was unarmed and tried to defend my property and the property of my girlfriend. We were both assaulted, punched, and ultimately shot at several times. A shotgun round missed me by inches. Not once did I ever swing back or reciprocate any the hate that was being directed at me. I am all for peaceful protests, even against me, but this was anything but peaceful. They threw toilet paper in her trees, broke her windows, and again, shot at both of us as they were trying to kill me. There are children that live there (and they) knew that. The irony in all of this is that they chanted Black Lives Matter the entire time, but had zero regard for any of the black children that live there or me, a black man.”
  11. On August 17, 2020, the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission voted unanimously to move forward with pre-hearing scheduling deadlines on the pending charges filed against him.
  12. On September 9, 2020, he filed a petition for writ of certiorari through his lawyers Jonathan Cermele and Christopher R. Smith in the Wisconsin Circuit Court to appeal the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission’s decision to suspend him with pay.
  13. He was not charged in the fatal shooting of Cole. On October 7, 2020, Milwaukee County district attorney John Chisholm explained to Wauwatosa police chief Barry Weber, “There is sufficient evidence that Officer Mensah had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary and that belief was objectively reasonable. 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.”

(This is a developing story. More details will be added soon.)

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