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Riots erupt in Wauwatosa after DA announces no charges in police shooting

Police in Wauwatosa, WI used tear gas on rioters after protesters in the suburban town on Milwaukee’s west side broke windows, sprayed buildings with graffiti and looted at least one business as Milwaukee County District Attorney declined to charge a police officer in the death of a 17-year-old Black man in February who shot a 9mm at bystanders.

“The protests began at the Milwaukee County Courthouse after the district attorney announced there would not be charges filed against Officer Joseph Mensah in the shooting death of Alvin Cole in February,” said WISN TV News 12.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said that the decision to not charge Mensah stemmed from the fact that Mensah had a reasonable belief that his life was in danger and “had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary.”

Mensah, who is Black, has been involved in two other deadly shootings in the last five years, according to a report by former U.S. attorney, Steven Biskupic, hired by the Wauwatosa Fire and Police Commission to review the case independently.

The Milwaukee DA said that he used the same standards of law in deciding not to charge Mensah, as he would with any other case.

“Mr. Cole went to Mayfair Mall armed with a 9mm,” said Chisholm in explaining his decision. “He had a confrontation with a patron. While he was running from them, he discharged the firearm, and from that point on, he was ordered to surrender the firearm and never did so.”

Protesters marched from Milwaukee County Courthouse past the Sheriff’s office and then on to a highway to nearby Wauwatosa, where the Cole shooting took place.

“Just after 9 p.m., News Chopper 12 captured video of tear gas being used to disperse some crowds,” says WISN. “Windows were smashed at least six businesses and graffiti was scrawled with spray paint. Police said the group of protesters was unlawfully assembled and ordered to disperse.”

Video from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows looters ransacking a Speedway gas station, pulling down displays and taking handfuls of items until police arrived to stop the looting.

“People began looting a gas station in Wauwatosa and only stopped because police started to roll in,” says Julio Rosas reporting for Townhall.

In addition to smashing the windows of local businesses, Rosas says that some tried to vandalize homes in Wauwatosa.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has called out the state National Guard to assist local police with keeping order as the city imposed a curfew until 6 a.m. Monday.

“One of our core missions in the Wisconsin National Guard is to serve our fellow citizens and preserve public safety,” Wisconsin’s Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp said according to WISN. “Our citizen soldiers and airmen live and work in the same communities all across Wisconsin, and we’re well-trained and prepared to assist our neighbors in any way we can.”

While the report from Biskupic found no wrongdoing by Mensah, the former U.S. attorney said the city of Wauwatosa should cut their losses and fire the officer anyway.  

“I further find that termination would serve the best interests of the Wauwatosa Police Department and the City of Wauwatosa,” Biskupic concluded.


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