WAUWATOSA, Wis. - The families of the three people shot and killed by former Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah wanted to meet with the city's new police chief Friday night, July 30. That meeting didn't happen.
Chief James MacGillis said he does not want to meet with the families as a group. Instead, he wants to meet each family individually, so it can be more personal. Both sides are now working to make those meetings happen.
"For the new police chief in Wauwatosa, we saw your press conference, and you did not have a sitdown with the family. You just called them and asked them to give a date to sit down with them," said Attorney Kimberley Motley, who represents the families of Jay Anderson Jr., Alvin Cole and Antonio Gonzales – the three shot and killed by Mensah within a five year period.
Joseph Mensah; Antonio Gonzales, Jay Anderson Jr., Alvin Cole
At a Wednesday night rally, Motley made a clear request for a meeting with MacGillis: "Hopefully Friday at 7 p.m. at Mayfair Mall."
MacGillis sat down with FOX6 News on Friday wanting to clear the air. He said the request for a group meeting with the families is not in the community's best interest, and that he is more than willing to meet with each of the families privately and individually.
"I don’t think it serves the family, and I don’t think it serves the community to meet with them collectively," MacGillis said. "I don’t like being mischaracterized by people taking what I’m saying out of context."
All three shootings were ruled justified by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. A judge ruled this week that there is probable cause to charge Mensah in the 2016 death of Jay Anderson Jr.
MacGillis' first day on the job was Monday, and he said he is hopeful that a conversation will help build relationships.
"Being new to this role, but also recognizing that there are people involved in this situation, hearing what their concerns are, acknowledging their loss, but also trying to inform myself and the staff of this department on things that maybe need to be changed from their perspective," MacGillis said. "Doesn’t mean those changes are going to happen or happen right away, but that’s an opportunity to truly hear and be transparent."
Wauwatosa Police Chief James MacGillis
Motley said she is also hopeful that conversations can be a step toward progress.
"Frankly, I think it’s great that he reached out. I think that it’s great that the families are willing to sit and talk with him, and it has to start somewhere," Motley said.
Motley said she has sent a list of dates to MacGillis and his hopeful meetings will happen soon.