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Community Wants Justice After Wauwatosa Cop Fatally Shoots 3 People In 5 Years

Jay Anderson Jr.'s Family Calling For Officer's Immediate Termination

Community members raise their hands to represent the number of people officer Joseph Mensah shot while on duty
Community members raise their hands — making the number three — to represent the number of people Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah fatally shot while on duty. The balloon ceremony took place at Madison Park in Wauwatosa on the fourth anniversary of Jay Anderson Jr.’s death, who was shot by Mensah on June 23, 2016. Corrinne Hess/WPR

On an early summer evening four years ago, Jay Anderson Jr. and his mom Linda Anderson, ran a few errands before picking up Cousins Subs for the family.

After returning home, the Andersons spent the night together. The mood was light, joyous.

Jay Anderson Jr., 25, was fatally shot by Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah on June 23, 2016. The case is currently under review by the Milwaukee County District Attorney. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Motley

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“We sat in our living room and his daughter was walking around, eating off of everybody’s subs,” Linda said.

Around midnight, Jay told his fiancée, Starkeisha Delarosa, he was going to meet some friends to celebrate his upcoming birthday. He would have turned 26 on July 4, 2016.

Three hours later, Jay was fatally shot six times by Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah, on June 23, 2016.

Jay’s death at the hands of Mensah wasn’t a first. Since becoming an officer in 2015, Mensah, who is Black, has killed three people while on duty. All were young men of color.

Mensah was cleared by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office in the shootings of Antonio Gonzalez and Jay. Now District Attorney John Chisholm is currently reviewing a third case — the death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole on Feb. 2. The DA’s office said they do not have a timeline for the review.

Meanwhile, Mensah is on administrative duty, meaning he’s no longer working out in public.

Justice For Jay

Four years after Jay’s death, his family is still looking for justice. They’ve hired an attorney and want Mensah fired and prosecuted. They’re also calling for all Wauwatosa police officers to wear body cameras.

Linda said after three fatal shootings, Mensah should be charged with homicide.

“I would like to see him fired and to do some time for the killings he has done,” Linda said. “It is not normal. It is not normal to kill three people. He is a murderer.”

The Wauwatosa Police Department did not respond to requests for comment, but in a recent Facebook post, Police Chief Barry Weber said Mensah used deadly force to defend himself.

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In Jay’s case, surveillance video from an elementary school shows him driving into Madison Park in Wauwatosa at 1:37 a.m. and parking his car. About an hour and a half later, Mensah approached the vehicle, tapping on his passenger side window at around 3 a.m.

According to the DA’s report, Mensah noticed Jay had a handgun in the front passenger seat while the men were speaking.

Mensah drew his weapon and ordered Jay to put his hands up. Jay raised his hands, but according to the report “on at least four occasions Mr. Anderson started to lower his right arm while leaning toward the front passenger seat where the gun was located.”

According to the report, Jay “lunged toward the gun with his right hand,” and Mensah shot him five times in the head and once in the right shoulder.

The Anderson’s attorney, Kimberly Motley, said she doesn’t believe Jay was reaching for his gun. Instead, she said he was tired, and his hands were falling forward. A toxicology report later found Jay to be legally intoxicated.

“Murder does not have a statute of limitations,” Motley said. “So I think it is important to re-look at this case, especially because it is the same officer.”

It wasn’t until the next morning that Linda found out her son had died.

“I first saw it on the news,” she said. “I kinda sat up in my bed and saw the police had a shooting. And I laid back down because I wouldn’t have thought it was my son out there.”

A few minutes later, police knocked on her door, and told her Jay had been killed during an altercation with police.

Several weeks later, Linda found out Mensah had also fatally shot Gonzalez, in July 2015. And most recently, she learned that Mensah was responsible for fatally shooting Cole in a mall parking lot on Feb. 2.

“(Police) kept it on the low, all this time,” she said. “I’m scared for the public, I’m scared for whoever is in Wauwatosa when Joseph Mensah is on the street.”

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Motley grew up in Milwaukee but has spent years working on human rights issues in the Middle East. She says police officers killing people of color without punishment is a human rights issue.

“I felt compelled to come back to my hometown and represent the Cole family,” Motley said.

Motley began representing the Gonzales family on June 29.

A Rare Case

Jon Shane is a former captain of the Newark Police Department in New Jersey and an associate professor in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

He said most police officers in the United States never shoot anyone.

“And one police officer is involved in three deadly encounters?” Shane said, “I couldn’t even begin to tell you how far away from the average that would be. It is extremely, extremely rare.”

For the last month, Mensah has been a focus of the Black Lives Matter protests in Milwaukee. Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride has been on the job for less than three months. He said he gets daily calls from people who want Mensah fired.

“People have understandable concerns about an officer who has been involved in three shootings that has resulted in death,” he said.

On June 18, Motley filed a complaint with the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission seeking Mensah’s termination. The group has 30 days to respond.

Motley said McBride refused to meet with the Anderson family prior to her filing the complaint. Police Chief Barry has also refused to meet with the family for the last four years, Motley said. Linda said her meeting with District Attorney Chisholm four years ago was disappointing.

“It was like, they didn’t do anything. They didn’t even go through the case,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I got justice at all. I felt like they swept it under the rug like they are trying to do all three of them, because he is an officer with a badge. But he’s not going to get away with it this time.”

Shane said despite community cries for Mensah’s dismissal, it will be difficult to fire him without criminal charges.

“If the process reveals that the officer didn’t do anything wrong and the evidence shows everything was legally justifiable, then calling for an officer’s termination doesn’t fit the proper outcome,” Shane said.

On June 22, Linda and her family celebrated Jay by eating Cousins Subs in their living room.

The next night, the Andersons went to Madison Park with their extended family, friends and dozens of Black Lives Matter protesters to mourn Jay on the four-year anniversary of his death. The group launched red and blue balloons into the sky, and prayed for justice.

Community members gather at a balloon ceremony on the fourth anniversary of Jay Anderson Jr.'s death
Community members gather at a balloon ceremony at Madison Park in Wauwatosa on the fourth anniversary of Jay Anderson Jr.’s death. Anderson was shot by Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah on June 23, 2016. Corrinne Hess/WPR

Editor’s Note: The story was updated with information about Attorney Kimberly Motley. Motley began representing the Gonzales family on June 29.

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