Charging decision in Joseph Mensah case to be reached in weeks

A prosecutor weighing whether to file charges against a former police officer who killed a man in a suburban Milwaukee park five years ago said Friday that a decision should be reached within four to six weeks.

Special prosecutors are deciding whether to charge former Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah, who shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. after discovering him sleeping in a park after hours in June 2016. Mensah said Anderson was reaching for a gun.

Special prosecutor Scott Hansen said in a court hearing Friday that he and La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke, who is also reviewing the case, expected to reach a decision within a couple of weeks. They will then either draft a criminal complaint, or a report to be made public explaining in detail why no charges were being brought, he said.

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They should be able to make public the results within four to six weeks, Hansen said.

"There's been a lot of work done on this case since the two of you got on board," Milwaukee County District Judge Glenn Yamahiro told the special prosecutors. "I have no concerns about this being dragged out at this point. I think six weeks is fine and we'll anticipate some type of decision."

Joseph Mensah

He scheduled a status hearing for April 29.

Anderson was one of three people Mensah killed during a five-year stint at the Wauwatosa Police Department. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office chose not to charge him with criminal wrongdoing in any of the deaths.

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But Anderson’s family’s attorney used a John Doe proceeding, a little-known Wisconsin legal maneuver similar to a grand jury inquiry, to persuade a judge in July that there was probable cause to support charges against Mensah in Anderson’s death and to convince him to appoint special prosecutors to decide whether to file any counts.

Mensah joined the Wauwatosa department in 2015, the year he fatally shot Antonio Gonzales. Prosecutors said Gonzales refused to drop a sword. The following year he shot Anderson in the park. Last year he fatally shot 17-year-old Alvin Cole as he fled from police following a disturbance in a mall. Mensah said Cole pointed a gun at him. That shooting sparked months of protests.

Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson, Antonio Gonzalez

Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson, Antonio Gonzalez

Mensah is Black. Gonzales identified as American Indian. Anderson and Cole were Black.

Mensah resigned from the Wauwatosa department in November 2020 and joined the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department.

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