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‘Protesters tried to kill me:’ Wauwatosa Officer Mensah issues statement on incident at his home

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Published: Aug. 9, 2020 at 7:36 PM CDT
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WAUWATOSA, Wis. (WITI) - Police are investigating an incident that happened at the residence of suspended Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah around 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8. While police said it happened at his residence, in a Facebook post, Mensah said it happened at his girlfriend's house.

According to police, a group of approximately 50-60 people “targeted and began to vandalize” the home on 100th Street and Vienna Street.

Officer Mensah attempted to communicate with the group but was physically assaulted outside his home, according to a release from Wauwatosa police around 11 a.m. Sunday. 

As the officer made his way back into his home, police said "armed protestors" approached the rear door and a single shotgun round was discharged into the back door. 

The investigation into this incident is ongoing, police said Sunday morning.

The Wauwatosa Police Department received assistance in disbursing the crowd from numerous neighboring agencies.

Police said in the release they're actively monitoring reported plans for demonstrations Sunday, adding:

“All City of Wauwatosa employees support the right to peacefully protest. Further incidents of vandalism or violent behavior will be dealt with on a situation by situation basis.”

Mensah's suspension stems from the 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.

Mensah has been involved in the shooting deaths of three people in five years. The 2015 fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzalez was ruled justified, as was the 2016 death of Jay Anderson.

Statement from Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride:

“Last night, approximately 50 people assembled at the private residence of Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah, engaged in a protest, and began to vandalize his home. Officer Mensah tried to engage in a dialogue with them but was physically assaulted. As he retreated into his home, armed protesters approached the rear door and one fired a shotgun round into his back door. The Wauwatosa Police Department received assistance in dispersing the crowd from numerous neighboring agencies. The WPD’s investigation into this incident is ongoing.

“In recent weeks, various groups have protested in Wauwatosa, demanding that Officer Mensah be fired. The City of Wauwatosa has always supported and protected the right to peaceful protest. Last night’s event was not a peaceful protest; it was criminal behavior. If the perpetrators of this criminal behavior are identified, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law.

"Tomorrow morning, I will be meeting with the Police Chief, the City Administrator, the City Attorney, and other City officials to determine which steps can be taken to ensure that Officer Mensah is fully protected and that criminal behavior of this kind will not happen again.

“On July 14, the Common Council and I issued a statement asking the Police Chief and the City Administrator to facilitate the transition of Officer Mensah from WPD employment. Nevertheless, every Common Council member and I support our police department. Every Common Council member and I support Officer Mensah’s right to due process under the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitutions and, as a police officer, to the additional due process protections found in the Wisconsin Statutes. Under Wisconsin law, the decision as to whether he will be fired, as demanded in a citizen complaint, belongs solely to the Wauwatosa Police & Fire Commission, and that Commission must be given a full opportunity to carry out its deliberations.

“During this difficult time, I ask all members of the community to reflect on their personal responsibility to engage in responsible and civil behavior. Now more than ever, it is essential that we all work together to heal a divided community. This will require patience and an understanding that, though changes must occur, they can only occur through the functioning of democratic processes and not through violence.”

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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