3 charged after Wauwatosa Officer Mensah assaulted, single round from shotgun fired at door

Ronald Bell, William Lofton, Niles McKee

Three men have been charged after suspended Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah was assaulted outside a Wauwatosa home and a single round from a shotgun was fired at the back door on Saturday, Aug. 8. Mensah is on paid administrative leave after fatally shooting 17-year-old Alvin Cole in February. The case remains under review by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. Mensah also killed two others in the line of duty -- both of those incidents were ruled justified.

Ronald Bell, 28, is facing one count of second degree recklessly endangering safety (use of a dangerous weapon) and one count of battery to a law enforcement officer. William Lofton, 23, is facing one count of second degree recklessly endangering safety. Niles McKee, 29, faces one count of harboring or aiding a felon, as party to a crime. 

Incident at home of Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah

Prosecutors say Bell admitted to firing the shot from the shotgun during the protest, and Lofton was driving the vehicle he left the scene in. A criminal complaint said McKee was on the roof of that vehicle -- and provided the shotgun Bell used in the incident, later asking a friend to "hide" it.

A crowd of around 60 people gathered Saturday, Aug. 8 outside a home near 100th Street and Vienna Avenue to confront him. Neighbors told FOX6 News off-camera that dozens of cars began speeding up and down the street before protesters approached the home -- yelling and throwing toilet paper.

According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 8 at 8:17 p.m., Wauwatosa officers were alerted to a caravan of citizens and vehicles that were at Mayfair Mall a few hours earlier had arrived in the neighborhood near 100th and Vienna.

Officers were aware that the caravan was at that address as a result of previous actions taken by Officer Mensah when he was acting in an official capacity as a police officer. Mensah has been involved in the shooting deaths of three people in five years. The 2015 fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzales was ruled justified, as was the 2016 death of Jay Anderson.

Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah

An investigation revealed that once the caravan arrived at the residence, Mensah came out of the house to try to talk to the group. When he did so, Mensah was assaulted and a single round from a shotgun was fired at the back door of the residence. 

According to the complaint, based on witness statements and a review of the surveillance and cellphone videos, an individual carrying a shotgun, who was later identified as Bell, joined the assault on Mensah. During the assault, Bell was holding a shotgun and it discharged, striking the doorframe to the residence.

The crowd eventually dispersed and the scene was secured by officers.

Incident at home of Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah

The complaint said surveillance video showed a vehicle with someone on the roof stopping to pick up another person, later confirmed to be Bell. The person on the roof fell forward, nearly striking their face on the top of the roof. Bell then entered the vehicle, which accelerated away with the person on top of the vehicle, later confirmed to be McKee. Prosecutors say Lofton was driving.

On the afternoon of Aug. 9 the SUV was found near Mayfair Road and North Avenue -- entering the Mayfair parking lot. The driver was identified as Lofton, and the passenger was identified as Bell, prosecutors said. The vehicle was stopped for a missing taillight, as it was in the surveillance video, but both men were released, as the investigation into the protest was ongoing. 

Two days later, on Aug. 11, the vehicle was stopped with Lofton again driving, and Bell as a passenger. Both were arrested.

On Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, Wauwatosa detectives conducted Mirandized interviews with Bell. According to the complaint, Bell admitted that he was the individual with the shotgun during the Aug. 8 incident. Bell also stated that the gun discharged while he was holding it, striking the residence, while he was confronting Mensah.

Incident at home of Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah

Bell stated that Lofton drove the vehicle to the residence where the confrontation occurred. Bell stated that after the shotgun discharged, he went back to the Yukon and Lofton accelerated away from the scene. 

Prosecutors said Bell apologized and identified himself in the videos, indicating he got the shotgun "from a fellow protester he knew as Niles," and he gave it back to Niles after the incident. 

A search warrant was executed at McKee's home near MLK Drive and Garfield Avenue and he was arrested. The shotgun was not located. The complaint said McKee told investigators he provided the shotgun used in the incident, and saw Bell carrying it at the scene. McKee said Lofton told him Bell had loaded it, according to prosecutors. Afterwards, McKee said he contacted someone on Facebook, "asking him to hide the shotgun for a minute," and the person he gave it to said he "would keep it until this blows over."

Wauwatosa police issued this statement Wednesday:

"Since the time of the incident, our investigators and law enforcement partners have been diligently working on the shooting that occurred on August 8, 2020 near 100th St/W Vienna Ave.  Several arrests have been made and the suspected firearm used has been recovered; see criminal complaints for further details.  The investigation is still ongoing.   The Wauwatosa Police Department would like to thank our investigators and all our law enforcement partners for their continued hard work and persistence in resolving this case." 

State Representative David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) has questioned whether Wauwatosa police should lead the investigation into the Aug. 8 incident, and has disputed police reports that a person at the protest shot into the home. Efforts to reach him Wednesday to comment on this development were not successful.


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