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WAUWATOSA - Police are investigating an incident that happened at the residence of suspended Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah around 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8. While police said it happened at the residence of the officer who has killed three people in the line of duty in five years, in a Facebook post, Mensah said it happened at his girlfriend's house.
According to police, a group of approximately 50-60 people "targeted and began to vandalize" the home on 100th Street and Vienna Street.
"It was a whole lot of police cars and taped off," said Rita Evans, neighbor. "I just couldn't get in to in front of my house, so I had to park my car in the back."
Video shared by a FOX6 viewer shows the chaotic scene.
Officer Mensah attempted to communicate with the group but was physically assaulted outside his home, according to a release from Wauwatosa police around 11 a.m. Sunday.
"I've got sons. I'm just going to have to tell my sons to be very careful about going in and out," said Evans.
As the officer made his way back into his home, police said "armed protesters" approached the rear door and a single shotgun round was discharged into the back door.
The investigation into this incident is ongoing, police said Sunday morning. FOX6 News reached out to Mensah and his attorney, and we expect to hear from him Monday. He released a statement Sunday on Facebook.
Statement from Officer Mensah on Aug. 8 incident:
Police said in the release Sunday morning they were actively monitoring reported plans for demonstrations later Sunday, adding:
"All City of Wauwatosa employees support the right to peacefully protest. Further incidents of vandalism or violent behavior will be dealt with on a situation by situation basis."
Joseph Mensah, Antonio Gonzalez, Jay Anderson, Alvin Cole
Mensah has been involved in the shooting deaths of three people in five years. The 2015 fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzalez was ruled justified, as was the 2016 death of Jay Anderson.
Mensah's suspension by a unanimous vote of the Wauwatosa Common Council July 15 stems from the officer-involved shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole on Feb. 2. That case is still under review by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. Meanwhile, Wauwatosa's mayor has called for him to "transition from the Wauwatosa Police Department's employment."
Mensah spoke out for the first time since the shootings on July 28, telling a radio host he fired his weapon in self-defense, adding no one can explain why the PFC voted to suspend him and indicating he believes it was done to appease protesters.
Statement from Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride on Aug. 8 incident:
"Last night, approximately 50 people assembled at the private residence of Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah, engaged in a protest, and began to vandalize his home. Officer Mensah tried to engage in a dialogue with them but was physically assaulted. As he retreated into his home, armed protesters approached the rear door and one fired a shotgun round into his back door. The Wauwatosa Police Department received assistance in dispersing the crowd from numerous neighboring agencies. The WPD’s investigation into this incident is ongoing.
"In recent weeks, various groups have protested in Wauwatosa, demanding that Officer Mensah be fired. The City of Wauwatosa has always supported and protected the right to peaceful protest. Last night’s event was not a peaceful protest; it was criminal behavior. If the perpetrators of this criminal behavior are identified, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law.
"Tomorrow morning, I will be meeting with the Police Chief, the City Administrator, the City Attorney, and other City officials to determine which steps can be taken to ensure that Officer Mensah is fully protected and that criminal behavior of this kind will not happen again.
"On July 14, the Common Council and I issued a statement asking the Police Chief and the City Administrator to facilitate the transition of Officer Mensah from WPD employment. Nevertheless, every Common Council member and I support our police department. Every Common Council member and I support Officer Mensah’s right to due process under the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitutions and, as a police officer, to the additional due process protections found in the Wisconsin Statutes. Under Wisconsin law, the decision as to whether he will be fired, as demanded in a citizen complaint, belongs solely to the Wauwatosa Police & Fire Commission, and that Commission must be given a full opportunity to carry out its deliberations.
"During this difficult time, I ask all members of the community to reflect on their personal responsibility to engage in responsible and civil behavior. Now more than ever, it is essential that we all work together to heal a divided community. This will require patience and an understanding that, though changes must occur, they can only occur through the functioning of democratic processes and not through violence."