WAUWATOSA, Wis. - The police chief of a Milwaukee suburb that has seen protests and unrest since an officer was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a Black teenager in February said Monday that he sees no reason why the officer should be fired. Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah remains on paid suspension, but is fighting to stay on the police force, while some, including the family of 17-year-old Alvin Cole, are calling for his firing.
Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah
It's up to the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission to decide.
"I understand the community is impatient for a result," said Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride Monday, Oct. 12, six days after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Mensah would not be charged in the fatal shooting of Cole outside Mayfair Mall in February. "We all are."
After a tumultuous weekend, with protesters calling for Mensah to be fired, Mayor McBride offered a reminder to the public that there is a legal process the PFC must follow.
"I'm sure Officer Mensah would like to have his status resolved, as well, but he is entitled to due process under the state and federal constitutions," said Mayor McBride. "So it is not in the hands of the police department, the mayor's office or the Common Council at this time."
Joseph Mensah, Antonio Gonzalez, Jay Anderson, Alvin Cole
The PFC suspended Mensah with pay in July following a complaint by the family of Jay Anderson, who was killed by Mensah in 2016.
Mensah also shot and killed Antonio Gonzalez in 2015.
"There's no reason, up to this point, that I can see that he should be removed from the force," said Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber on Monday.
With Weber standing behind Mensah, an independent investigator and former U.S. attorney hired by the PFC believes Mensah should be fired because the risk is too great he'll shoot a fourth person.
Miss Molly's Cafe, damaged amid unrest that followed protests in Wauwatosa
"I've never heard of any police officer ever being disciplined for something they may or may not do in the future," said Chief Weber.
With the PFC set to meet next on Oct. 21, Milwaukee County Supervisor Shawn Rolland is encouraging urgency and productive conversation.
Protests in Wauwatosa after the decision not to charge Officer Joseph Mensah in the death of Alvin Cole
"People protest, I think, in the streets because they feel like either a system is being unfair to them, or people aren't listening to them," said Rolland. "If we want to mitigate that, and try to get people to feel part of the system and heard, then I think the only way to do that is to build a dialogue."
It's unlikely there will be any action regarding Mensah on Oct. 21, as each party has until Oct. 28 to file a pre-hearing report, including submitting a list of witnesses they plan to call at the hearing.