A Wisconsin cop will not be charged in the fatal shooting of Alvin Cole, 17, whose death outside a suburban Milwaukee mall sparked waves of unrest this summer and calls for the sacking of the officer.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney on Wednesday said Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah was justified in shooting Cole, who police said was armed during the encounter in a parking lot at The Cheesecake Factory.
Prior to the announcement, schools in Wauwatosa held classes virtually and the town hall and library shut down prematurely, while businesses boarded their windows. Authorities put up fences around the Police Department and the Mayfair Mall, where Cole was killed in February and protesters closed in June.
Governor Tony Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to support local police, who requested a backup before the ruling.
A crowd of more than 100 gathered outside the Milwaukee County Security Building as Cole’s family and their attorney met with prosecutors. Protesters chanted “Indict Joseph Mensah”, “Arrest the police” and “Say his name: Alvin Cole”. Some supporters were holding signs, including one that said, “You are losing your Mensah job!”
Mayor Dennis McBride told WISN that the city started preparing for Mensah’s impeachment decision in July – ahead of Jacob Blake’s shooting by police on August 23 in Kenosha. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Trump and Blue Lives Matter supporter, shot and killed two people and injured a third during a protest following Blake’s shooting.
“After Kenosha, it only increased concern,” McBride told the ABC affiliate, referring to the bloodshed 45 miles south. “We’re going to make sure we have people in place to allow peaceful protests to happen, but also to make sure people don’t let their emotions get too high and do things they would regret and the community. would regret.
District Attorney John Chisholm – who justified two more deadly shots by Mensah during the cop’s five years of service – said: “There is sufficient evidence that Officer Mensah had a real subjective belief that lethal force was necessary and that this belief was objectively reasonable.
“I don’t think the state can refute the self-defense or the defense of others in this case and therefore could not shoulder the burden required to indict Officer Mensah,” Chisholm said in a statement on Wednesday. “With that, I conclude my criminal examination of the case.”
Meanwhile, hours before Chisholm met Cole’s family on Wednesday, former US prosecutor Steven Biskupic released an independent report recommending that Wauwatosa police and the fire commission fire Mensah, claiming the cop would expose the city at an “extraordinary, unjustified and unnecessary risk” for a fourth fatal shot.
The report notes that Mensah violated policy by making “public statements regarding the shootings which are inconsistent and misleading with the facts” as police are prohibited from “publicly discussing the details of an ongoing investigation into the death of a policeman ”.
“My little boy, he was supposed to finish high school this year.“
Biskupic’s report also shed new light on the moments leading up to Cole’s death on the evening of February 2. According to Biskupic’s report, Cole never shot Mensah; the teenager was carrying a gun and accidentally shot himself in the arm.
On the day of Cole’s death, mall security called police about a disruption inside the mall involving 10 people, one of whom was carrying a gun. Authorities said Cole, a former Vincent High School alumnus in Milwaukee, fled officers, disobeyed orders to drop his gun, and fired first – a claim Cole’s family disputed.
“Cole pulled a handgun out of a fanny pack and the gun fired, apparently accidentally, hitting Cole in the arm,” the Independent report said. “Cole fell to the ground in a crawling position, where he was surrounded by several police officers from Wauwatosa. Cole was ordered to drop the weapon, which was still in his hand.
The report adds: “Unbeknownst to the officers (and possibly Cole himself), Cole’s firearm had become unusable because the magazine was not attached and the bullet in the chamber was fired. . Cole didn’t drop the gun.
Cole was fatally injured seconds after Mensah arrived. “No other Wauwatosa police officer shot Cole during the encounter,” the report continued. “Agent Mensah was at the scene less than 30 seconds before he encountered and shot Cole.”
Wauwatosa patrollers don’t wear body cameras, but the dashcam video showed Cole running around the Cheesecake Factory lot, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The officer got out of the car and ordered, “Drop the gun, drop the gun.”
In the footage, an officer is heard shouting, “Go ashore. Get on the fucking ground ”, before a gunshot rings out. And ten seconds later, an officer fires five times.
The incident marked Mensah’s third fatal shooting in five years. The 30-year-old officer, who is black, killed Antonio Gonzales in 2015 and Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016 in shootings which Chisholm also justified as self-defense. (Cole and Anderson were black, while Gonzales was Latino / Native American, according to reports.)
Cole’s mother has demanded that Mensah be fired and criminally charged with her son’s death. “We want him fired and sentenced, and I’m not going to rest until he’s done,” Tracy Cole said in July. “Do whatever it takes and send him back right away.”
“If you put it back in force, there will be a fourth family, a fifth family. You all need to fire him as soon as possible, ”added Jay Anderson, father of Anderson Jr.
Cole’s death also gained attention outside Wisconsin, as protests against police violence against people of color swept across the country.
This summer, rapper Jay-Z’s social justice team, Team Roc, posted a tweet calling for Mensah’s dismissal and tagged the District Attorney: “How many more people have yet to die at the hands of Agent Joseph Mensah ? “
The Biskupic report was commissioned after Anderson’s family filed a complaint. The report found that Anderson’s shooting was “within legal limits” but raised questions about Mensah’s actions that night and in two other cases.
According to the report, Anderson, 25, was drinking in a bar late at night in June 2016 and instead of going home he drove to Madison Park where he “probably fell asleep” at the wheel, with his gun loaded in the passenger seat. When Mensah entered the park at 3:01 am, the men were alone. Mensah claims that shortly after approaching Anderson’s vehicle, Anderson rushed towards the gun and as a result Mensah fired four shots – three of which hit Anderson in the head.
In the July 2015 incident, Mensah and another officer were sent to a house for a disturbance involving Gonzales, 29, who was severely intoxicated and arguing with people at the scene. The report states that Gonzales wielded a samurai sword with a 49-inch blade and raised the weapon above his head, allegedly moving “within striking distance of Mensah”. In response, Mensah shot Gonzales eight times, while the other cop shot once. “Officer Mensah was only at the scene a minute before the shoot,” and turned off the onboard camera of his squad car en route, according to the report.
Mensah, who is on paid administrative leave, defended himself in July in an interview with a conservative radio host, saying he was “angry” at the confusion surrounding his suspension, “lies spreading” about him. cases and demonstrators mocking the children of his relatives at his home. He said he received threats on Facebook, including messages accusing him of being racist.
The officer said critics singled him out – for Cole and the other men he has killed in the line of duty in recent years – because of nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a Minneapolis cop.
“The city is just focused on me,” Mensah said. “Not to run a race there, but it’s just a little strange that of all these critical incidents that we have, as a black officer, I’m the only one who has been suspended for a critical incident involving a suspect. which is an arm.[ed]. It’s confusing and I don’t understand why.
Mensah claimed that several officers in his department fired on armed suspects on multiple occasions – an allegation refuted by Biskupic’s report. According to Biskupic’s report, Mensah “provided misleading information to the public” in an attempt to “downplay the importance of his own conduct then under scrutiny”.
On a GoFundMe page, Mensah’s brother Christopher claimed that Mensah “has been treated unfairly and unfairly by mob mentality and anti-police rhetoric” and that his family is raising funds “to fight any dissemination. inaccurate information and character defamation that was done. ”The fundraising site has raised over $ 78,000.
In August, three men were charged after Mensah was assaulted outside his home in Wauwatosa, where a gunshot was fired at the back door during a protest. According to reports, Mensah came out of the house to try and speak to a caravan of protesters.
Cole’s sister, Taleavia, previously said her brother was set to finish high school in the spring and join her at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
Tracy Cole said her son was 17 days before he died.
“My little boy, he was supposed to graduate from high school this year,” Cole told Fox 6 in Milwaukee. “Seventeen. Very smart young man. Wanted to go to college. He said to me, ‘Mom, I’m going to do something positive with myself.’ “
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