Joseph Mensah, the police officer in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin will not be charged in the fatal February shooting of Black teenager Alvin Cole.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney made the announcement Wednesday as Gov. Tony Evers (D) activated the National Guard in the state to assist with any potential protests over the decision.
Evers earlier told reporters he called up the National Guard as a preemptive move to ensure peaceful protests, saying at the time he did know what the call on charges would be.
Cole, 17, was shot outside of a Wauwatosa mall by Mensah, who was responding to a call about a man with a gun inside the building. Police have said that Cole shot at Mensah, who is also Black, before the officer shot at the young man. Cole’s family has disputed this account and called for Mensah to be fired.
“I do not believe that the State could disprove self-defense or defense of others in this case and therefore could not meet the burden required to charge Officer Mensah. With this I conclude my criminal review of the matter,” district attorney John T. Chisholm said in a statement obtained by local media outlets.
Kimberly Motley, an attorney representing the Cole family, had shared previously shared recommendations from an independent investigation performed by former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic that called for Mensah’s ouster.
Mensah had previously shot and killed two other people in the past five years and was cleared of any wrongdoing in both cases. In the previous killings, the first one happened in 2015, the second in 2016, and Cole’s in February, this year. Mensah has been suspended with pay from the Wauwatosa Police Department.
“If a fourth shooting by Officer Mensah were to take place, the public’s confidence in the Wauwatosa Police Department would be significantly eroded,” Biskupic wrote in his report. Biskupic also noted that even a single officer-involved shooting is unusual in a town as small as Wauwatosa, which has a population of about 48,000.
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