Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah suspended by city’s Police and Fire Commission

WAUWATOSA -- Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah has been suspended by the city’s Police and Fire Commission (PFC).

The unanimous vote by five commissioners, done virtually over zoom because of the pandemic, comes as part of a special meeting on Wednesday, July 15 that accepted administrative charges filed against Mensah by the family of Jay Anderson.

"This is not a criminal investigation, this is a hearing on the unemployment status of the officer complained about," said Alan Kesner, Wauwatosa city attorney.

Footage from shooting of Jay Anderson Jr.

Anderson was shot and killed by Mensah in 2016. He 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.

"We believe that proper protocols, rules and procedures were violated by Officer Mensah," said Kimberley Motley, attorney for the Anderson family.

Mensah has been involved in the shooting deaths of three people in five years. The 2015 fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzalez was ruled justice, as was Anderson's.

(L-R): Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson Jr., Antonio Gonzales

Mensah is on administrative leave, with pay, stemming from an officer-involved shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole earlier this year. That case is still under review by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office.

"I'm feeling very good about the outcome, about the decision," said Tracy Cole, Alvin Cole's mother. "I'm very pleased, this is just one step."

This suspension by the FPC is on top of that administrative leave, but with pay, as the commission does not have the authority to suspend without pay.

Alvin Cole, scene of officer-involved shooting

Mensah's attorney, Jon Cermele, described the process as tainted.

"Those public pronouncements certainly taint the ability of this board to act in an impartial, adjudicatory fashion," Cermele said.

The board appointed former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic as an independent investigator; he is doing the work pro bono.

"My goal on this is to be thorough, to move promptly," said Biskupic.

Attorneys for Anderson's family are also representing the Gonzales and Cole families. Charges have also been submitted to the PFC in those cases.