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Politics & Government

Wauwatosa Common Council Wants Controversial Officer Off The Police Force

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Chuck Quirmbach
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Protesters wanting Joseph Mensah to be dismissed from the Wauwatosa Police Department enter the Wauwatosa police headquarters during a demonstration on June 18.

Tuesday night, the Wauwatosa Common Council took a step toward the possible departure of controversial officer Joseph Mensah from the Wauwatosa Police Department.

The council voted 13-1, without public discussion, to authorize the city administrator and police chief to "effectuate" the “transition of Mensah from employment by the department as quickly as possible.” While in the line of duty, Mensah has shot three citizens to death in the last six years. Authorities have ruled the first two cases self-defense, while the third shooting in February of this year is still under review. 

The Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon to begin hearing a complaint that could lead to Mensah's firing. Attorneys representing the family of the man Mensah shot in 2016, Jay Anderson Jr., have filed the complaint.

>>'We Need Justice': Wauwatosa March Again Highlights Police Officer Involved In 3 Fatal Shootings

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride says the public won't be allowed to speak at Wednesday’s session, which he says is a quasi-judicial hearing. 

"Because the meeting will be like a court trial, there will not be any public comment. There is never public comment at a trial,” McBride said Tuesday.

McBride says the Police and Fire Commission will hear from attorneys for the Anderson family, and from the lawyer representing Mensah. McBride says the public can watch on Zoom. The meeting begins at 4 p.m.

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Credit Chuck Quirmbach
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Protesters critical of Officer Joseph Mensah's fatal shooting of Alvin Cole in February hold a rally on June 6 near the site of the incident outside Mayfair Mall.

Tuesday night's action by the Wauwatosa Common Council took place after four hours in closed session, ostensibly to discuss potential litigation and strategies involving the Wauwatosa Police Department. 

The council’s resolution also says it recognizes the “community trauma regarding police officer-involved deaths in the city.” The document says,  “doing nothing is not an option.”

Officer Mensah is currently assigned to desk duty at the Wauwatosa police station.

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