Milwaukee – The Milwaukee suburban police chief who has seen protests and riots since an officer was cleared of crime in the cityin February said Monday that he sees no reason why the officer should be fired.
Joseph Mensah, who is also black, fatally shot the 17-year-oldon February 2nd in front of the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa. Cole was the third person Mensah has shot since joining the police five years ago.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney announced last week that, like the first two fatal shootings, Mensah would not face Cole̵
Although Mensah has not been charged, the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Department are considering firing him. The commission called on an independent investigator, former US attorney Steven Biskupic, to investigate a complaint filed by the family of one of the men Mensah killed.
In a report that Cole’s family lawyer presented to The Associated Press, Biskupic recommended that Mensah be fired for believing the risk of Mensah fatally shooting someone else was too great, which is “an extraordinary, unjustified and unnecessary risk” the city would create and police department.
After five nights of protests and sporadic riots, Police Chief Barry Weber said during an online press conference Monday that he disagreed with Biskupic’s recommendations after it was found that Mensah acted legally when he used lethal force in all three deaths.
“I have never heard of a police officer who has ever been disciplined for something he may or may not do in the future,” Weber said, noting that the decision is ultimately left to the Commission.
“Joseph Mensah was acquitted by the prosecutor on three separate occasions. So far there has been no reason and no one I can see (for whatever reason) that he should be removed from the force,” said the chief.
Kimberley Motley, the Cole family’s attorney, turned down Weber’s position, again calling Mensah “unfit” and renewing her call that he and the boss should be fired.
“I think this position of chief is another reason he must be fired,” said Motley, adding, “Joseph Mensah is not credible and neither is Chief Weber.”
Mayor Dennis McBride, who also spoke at the press conference, has in the past openly asked whether Mensah should remain in action. But on Monday he refused to say where he stands now and said that he did not want to put any additional pressure on the police and fire chiefs.
“I’m not a cop, I’m not a psychologist. I’m a mayor, I’m a lawyer. These things do not entitle me to assess the fitness of cops,” said McBride.
Mensah’s attorney, Jonathan Cermele, did not immediately return a call for comment.
The decision not to charge Mensah in Cole’s death sparked five nights of protests in Wauwatosa, including a gathering Sunday that was much more peaceful than last week’s protests, where protesters clashed with police who used tear gas and rubber bullets around them to disperse.
Cole was the third person Mensah killed while on the job in 2015. He shot and killed Antonio Gonzales in 2015 after police said Gonzales refused to drop a sword. A year later, Mensah shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. after hours in a car parked in a park. Mensah said he saw a gun in the passenger seat and thought Anderson was reaching for it. He was each exempt from wrongdoing.
The Wauwatosa protests are just the latest in a series of demonstrations against racism and police brutality that have broken out across the country since George Floyd’s death. Floyd, who was black, died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer pushed his knee back for a few minutes despite Floyd’s request for air.