WAUWATOSA -- The brother of Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah, suspended by the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission following three fatal officer-involved shootings in five years, has launched a GoFundMe.com account, alleging his brother "has been treated unfairly and unjustly by mob mentality and anti-police rhetoric." The family is trying to raise money " to fight all the inaccurate dissemination of information and defamation of character which have been made," and allow Mensah to "clear his name."
Mensah was suspended by the PFC in a unanimous vote by the five commissioners on July 15 as part of a special meeting in which the PFC accepted administrative charges filed against Mensah by the family of Jay Anderson. This, one day after the Common Council voted to "transition" Mensah from employment.
Anderon was shot and killed around 3 a.m. June 23, 2016 in Wauwatosa's Madison Park. Police said Mensah was responding to a suspicious vehicle when he fired at Anderson, believing Anderson was reaching for a gun. Family attorney said was sleeping in his vehicle -- "not bothering anyone, not doing anything wrong, and there were no complaints regarding his behavior or evidence that he was doing anything illegal, or had committed any crimes."
Mensah was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in that case. Attorneys for Anderson's family argue that Mensah violated his law enforcement code, calling for his firing.
Joseph Mensah, Antonio Gonzalez, Jay Anderson, Alvin Cole
The 2015 fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzalez was also ruled justified. The 29-year-old man was killed in July 2015 after police said he confronted officers with a sword.
Mensah was placed on administrative leave, with pay, stemming from the officer-involved shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole on Feb. 2. Police said officers responded to Mayfair Mall after security reported approximately 10 people who were causing a disturbance. At least one witness indicated one of the people involved in the disturbance was armed with a handgun. Police found a group outside the mall, and at least four people ran when they saw officers. One of those four people matched the description of the individual that was reported to have been armed. Officers gave chase on foot. During the chase, police said Cole was in possession of a handgun, and Mensah fired. Cole died at the hospital.
That case is still under review by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office.
Mensah's suspension by the FPC is on top of that administrative leave in the Cole case, but with pay, as the commission does not have the authority to suspend without pay. Mensah's attorney, Jon Cermele, described the process as tainted. The board appointed former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic as an independent investigator; he is doing the work pro bono.
Attorneys for Anderson's family are also representing the Gonzales and Cole families. Charges have also been submitted to the PFC in those cases.
Meanwhile, Mensah's brother shared this message on the GoFundMe.com page:
"I am Christopher Mensah--brother of Wauwatosa Police Officer, Joseph Anthony Mensah. Although we have received ample support from the Wauwatosa Police Department, Joseph has had to overcome the dissemination of false information about his personal life, slander, and defamation from multiple sources. Joseph has been treated unfairly and unjustly by mob mentality and anti-police rhetoric. The Mensah family has full confidence in the attorney paid for by the WPOA, who is currently representing Joseph during the proceedings with the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission. We are raising funds to pay for legal counsel to explore and take legal action against those that have unjustly accused him of wrongdoing, interfered with his ability to receive due process, and wrongly besmirched his character and integrity. Joseph is a well-known, respected, and decorated Police Officer, who has placed the public’s safety and trust before his own. His service to the community began in 2009 when he first joined law enforcement as a volunteer Reserve Police Officer, serving the same city that has now unjustly suspended him. In regards to the officer involved shootings associated with Joseph from 2015 and 2016, investigations were conducted by the Wauwatosa Police Dept., Milwaukee Police Dept., Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office. In both of those investigations, it was determined that Joseph’s actions were justified, and he did not violate any laws or department policies/procedures. The Mensah family plans to fight all the inaccurate dissemination of information and defamation of character which have been made. This will allow Joseph to clear his name so that he can be able to continue doing what he loves the most, and that is serving the community."