Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah Is Resigning After Third Fatal Shooting

Mensah Killed 3 People In 5 Years; Latest Shooting Sparked Unrest In Milwaukee Suburb

Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah
This undated photo provided by the Wauwatosa Police Department in Wauwatosa, Wis., shows Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah. In a report released Wednesday Oct. 7, 2020, an independent investigator recommended officials in the Milwaukee suburb fire Mensah, who has shot and killed three people in the last five years. Gary Monreal/Monreal Photography LLC/Wauwatosa Police Department via AP

Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah, who has been suspended since the summer after his third fatal shooting in five years, will resign from the police department effective Monday, Nov. 30.

The Wauwatosa Common Council and Mensah agreed to the separation agreement Tuesday night, hoping to end months of unrest in the Milwaukee suburb.

Mensah was cleared by the Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm in all three on-duty shootings. Chisholm’s most recent decision in October, to clear Mensah in the shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole, sparked a week of protests and arrests in Wauwatosa.

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Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said he hopes the city can move forward.

“Now is the time for all of us to come together and heal,” McBride said in a written statement. “We’ve made substantial progress during 2020, and in the coming year we’ll continue to focus on positive change for our community.”

The separation agreement was announced Tuesday night following a Wauwatosa Common Council meeting. It was unexpected. Mensah’s fate was to be decided by the city’s Police and Fire Commission.

The officer has been waiting for a hearing that led to his suspension in July.

An independent investigator appointed by the commission at the same time Mensah was suspended recommended the officer be fired.

Former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic looked into the fatal shooting of Cole. Biskupic released a report hours before Chisholm’s announcement, and the report concluded Mensah should be fired because the risk of a fourth shooting is “too great.”

As part of the separation agreement, the city is asking the Police and Fire Commission to dismiss all department violations against Mensah since he will no longer be an employee. Other details on the terms of Mensah’s separation agreement have not yet been released.

Kimberley Motley, the attorney who represents the three families who Mensah killed, tweeted late Tuesday night: “Joseph Mensah’s resignation is long overdue. While we welcome the news; it is tragic that the WPD under Chief Weber’s leadership failed to address his shortcomings for years. It is time for new leadership in the WPD!”

She later said, “This is far from over.”

Motley said she will continue to fight to get Weber fired from his job.

“Had Chief Weber done his basic job, and fired Officer Mensah years ago, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today,” Motley said in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio. “We believe he has failed as a supervisor, he has failed as a leader, and we believe it is time for the city of Wauwatosa to really demonstrate that they are really ready and willing to move forward.”

Motley has also requested the city dismiss the curfew tickets issued to more than 30 people during the protests in the days after Mensah was found not guilty in the Cole shooting. The tickets are $1,321 each. By comparison, people who violated curfew were given tickets for $691 in Milwaukee and $200 in Kenosha.

McBride did not respond to request for further comment. In a previous interview with WPR, he said Weber is not perfect, but he doesn’t believe he should be fired.

Motley said she hopes what isn’t lost in the news about Mensah resigning is that three families will be celebrating Thanksgiving without their loved ones because of Mensah.