A black police officer said protesters chanted “black lives matter” while shooting at him and punching him at his girlfriend’s Wisconsin home Saturday night.
Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensahposted on Facebookthat protesters “tried to kill me. I was unarmed and tried to defend my property and the property of my girlfriend. We were both assaulted, punched, and ultimately shot at several times. A shotgun round missed me by inches. Not once did I ever swing back or reciprocate any the hate that was being directed at me. I am all for peaceful protests, even against me, but this was anything but peaceful. They threw toilet paper in her trees, broke her windows, and again, shot at both of us as they were trying to kill me. There are children that live there any the knew that. The irony in all of this is that they chanted Black Lives Matter the entire time, but had zero regard for any of the black children that live there or me, a black man.”
What’s the background?
Over the last five years, Mensah fatally shot three people in the line of duty, most recently a 17-year-old earlier this year,WITI-TV reported. Mensah’s fatal shootings in 2015 and 2016 were ruled justified, but he was suspended in July over the Feb. 2 fatal shooting of Alvin Cole, the station said. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office is still reviewing the Cole case, but Wauwatosa’s mayor called for Mensah to “transition from the Wauwatosa Police Department’s employment,” WITI said.
TheMilwaukee Journal Sentinel reportedthat Mensah was suspended with pay, and the families of the people he fatally shot — two were black; one was Latino/Native American — said they plan to pursue legal action.
What happened Saturday?
Wauwatosa police said between 50 and 60 people gathered at the home Saturday to protest Mensah, where he was physically assaulted and a single shotgun round was fired into the home, the paper said.
Police added that protesters began to vandalize the home around 8 p.m. and that while Mensah “attempted to establish a dialog,” he “was ultimately physically assaulted,” the Journal Sentinel said, citing a police department release.
As Mensah went inside, “armed protesters approached the rear door and a single shotgun round was discharged by a member of the group into Officer Mensah’s backdoor,” the paper added, citing the release.
Neighbors told the Journal Sentinel they heard fireworks and loud noises near the house throughout Saturday night.
“There was a bunch all at once, which we thought were firecrackers, and then after that, there was one louder one,” a neighbor Monica, who asked that her last name not be published, told the paper. “It was pretty scary.”
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Sundaycalledthe incident “domestic terrorism” and said officials “must take action”:
“To call me a murderer, without any conviction, without any charges, and then to do something like this, again, I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m confused,” he said during the interview, the paper reported.
Mensah added that “it’d be one thing if there was any kind of cause, whatsoever, for my actions. But I defended myself, several times. Proven that I defended myself several times,” the Journal Sentinel said.
He also said he believes he was suspended to appease protesters,WITI saidin a separate story.
“They knew all about this in 2016,” Mensah said, according to the station. “They didn’t have an issue with it in 2017. They didn’t have an issue with it back in 2018. They didn’t have an issue in 2019. Now, it’s 2020. Let’s just suspend him for no reason.”
AGoFundMefor Mensah’s legal fees set up in mid-July has raised over $73,000 as of Monday afternoon. The Wauwatosa Peace Officers Association is paying for Mensah’s attorney, the paper added.
What did the mayor have to say?
Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said he would meet with the police chief and other city officials Monday morning to ensure Mensah is “fully protected and that criminal behavior of this kind will not happen again,” the Journal Sentinel said.
“The City of Wauwatosa has always supported and protected the right to peaceful protest,” McBride added in his statement, the paper said. “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.”