A suburban Milwaukee police officer who has fatally shot three people in the line of duty since 2015, including a teenager outside a mall in February, is expected to receive about $130,000 US for resigning from the force.
The Wauwatosa Common Council approved a separation agreement with Joseph Mensah on Tuesday night, effective Nov. 30. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office has ruled all three shootings by Mensah were justified self-defence.
The deal calls for Mensah to receive 13 months’ pay, a severance payment of $15,000 and any pay before his resignation date, as well as accrued vacation and overtime. The city will pay $19,500 into his deferred compensation plan and pay its share of his health insurance for 13 months.
Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said Mensah’s resignation will cost a total of about $130,000.
“That sounds like a good amount of money, but it actually is probably less than what the city would spend paying for his attorneys’ fees and our attorneys’ fees if we went through a hearing at the police and fire commission,” McBride told WTMJ-TV.
Protests followed the most recent shooting outside Mayfair Mall. Alvin Cole, a Black 17-year-old, was shot five times by Mensah after he fled from police following a disturbance inside the mall. Mensah, who also is Black, said he shot Cole because he had pointed a gun at him.
Protesters marched for months, calling for Mensah to be fired. They protested outside the mall and Wauwatosa City Hall.
Wisconsin also saw protests in August, after another Wisconsin officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back in Kenosha in front of his sons. Two protesters were shot by an armed civilian in the days following the original shooting.
Mensah was suspended by the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission after a complaint was filed by the family of one of the men he killed, Jay Anderson Jr. He was shot after Mensah found him sitting in a car in a city park after hours in 2016. Mensah also fatally shot Antonio Gonzales in 2015 after Gonzales refused to drop a sword, according to police.
On the same day that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm cleared Mensah of any criminal wrongdoing in Cole’s death, an independent investigator hired by the commission recommended that Mensah be fired.
Investigator Steven Biskupic wrote in his report released Oct. 7 that the potential for a fourth fatal shooting by Mensah created an extraordinary and unnecessary risk to the police department and the city.
Chisholm’s decision set off nights of protests throughout the city where a curfew was imposed for five days. Wauwatosa schools closed, businesses were boarded up and the police department was surrounded by a metal fence in anticipation of civil unrest. The National Guard was stationed outside the mall.