No Charges Filed Against Wauwatosa Officer

Social Issues

No Charges Filed Against Wauwatosa Officer

Joseph Mensah will not be charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole.

By Will Kenneally

October 7, 2020 • Southeast Region

FacebookTwitterGoogle ClassroomEmail
Alvin Cole’s family members walk down the stairs of the Milwaukee County Safety Building on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (Courtesy: Angela Major / WPR)

Alvin Cole’s family members walk down the stairs of the Milwaukee County Safety Building on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (Courtesy: Angela Major / WPR)

No charges will be filed against the Wauwatosa police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole in February.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm declined to file charges, saying there was enough evidence to show officer Joseph Mensah believed deadly force was necessary.

In February, police responded to reports of a man with a gun, Cole, at the Mayfair mall in Wauwatosa. According to an incident report, Cole fired one shot into his own arm and fell to the ground. Mensah shot Cole as he held onto the gun.

Chisholm did not say the shooting was justified in his decision however.

“DA Chisholm did not justify this shooting, which means Alvin did not shoot at Joseph Mensah,” said Cole’s sister Taleavia Cole.

Though no charges will be filed against Mensah, a report to the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission from former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic found that Mensah should be fired due to a high risk he would shoot another person.

The Wauwatosa police department suspended Mensah in July, after the officer shot and killed three men in five years.

“Joseph Mensah should not be working,” said Taleavia Cole. “He should have never been working after Antonio Gonzalez.”

Protesters took to the streets outside the Milwaukee County courthouse in the wake of the decision late Wednesday.

Gov. Tony Evers activated the Wisconsin National Guard to respond to anticipated social unrest, and Wauwatosa issued a curfew starting at 7 that night. Police erected a fence around the Wauwatosa police station as well.

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin reacted to the news Wednesday, calling for the use of body cameras to increase transparency.

“I personally don’t believe it would be right to give this officer an opportunity to engage in a fourth fatal shooting,” she said. “We need greater transparency, fairness and accountability in policing.”

Click Youth Media

Click is PBS Wisconsin Education’s youth media initiative.

We provide media production professional development for educators, support student journalism, and offer PBS Media Literacy Educator Certification to help teachers as they critically consume and create media with their students.

Statement to the Communities We Serve

There is no place for racism in our society. We must work together as a community to ensure we no longer teach, or tolerate it.  Read full statement here.