Joseph Mensah killed three people in five years while employed as a Wauwatosa, Wis., Police Officer. After his third killing, Mensah was suspended for several months. So he resigned and got a new job as a sheriff’s deputy instead.
Joseph Mensah resigned under pressure from the Wauwatosa Police Department last November. According to WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee,
Mensah was involved in three police shootings in the past five years: the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole at Mayfair Mall last February; the fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzales in 2015; and the fatal shooting of Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016.WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee, November 18, 2020
We pick up the rest of the story from National Public Radio. Tumalo Lookout comments follow the NPR story.
Officer Who Quit Wisconsin Police Job Under Pressure Joins Nearby Sheriff’s Dept.
January 28, 20214:39 PM ET
Joseph Mensah, who quit his job as a police officer in Wauwatosa, Wis., after shooting and killing three people in the line of duty over a five-year period, has a new job as a sheriff’s deputy. Sheriff Eric Severson of neighboring Waukesha County says multiple authorities concluded Mensah’s controversial use of force was both legal and in line with his training.
In announcing the hire, Severson acknowledged that “some have expressed concerns about Mr. Mensah’s past uses of force.” But he said Mensah had gone through “an extensive, thorough and exhaustive hiring process.”National Public Radio, January 28, 2021
The sheriff added that Mensah’s work with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office will start with a supervised field training program.
Mensah, who is Black, was the subject of intense protests in Wauwatosa last October, after the Milwaukee County district attorney announced no charges would be filed against him in the shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole on Feb. 2. The prosecutor’s office concluded Mensah had acted in self-defense.
Despite that finding, Mensah resigned in November after a months-long suspension from the Wauwatosa Police Department in suburban Milwaukee.
Cole was the third person to have been shot and killed by Mensah since 2015, according to multiple reports.
“Mensah’s two earlier shootings had also been found to be in self-defense, and the officer was not disciplined,” as NPR’s Brakkton Booker reported.
From The Tumalo Lookout:
Don’t be fooled by the reassurances of Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson. His claim that Mensah had gone through “an extensive, thorough and exhaustive hiring process” is the same thing that every sheriff and police chief says about all of their hires.
Does Sheriff Severson’s claim mean that his office doesn’t normally do such a “thorough” hiring process for all of his hires?
And if his office does give the same level of scrutiny to all of its pre-hires, then why the hell should anyone take comfort from Severson’s claim?
Because clearly Sheriff Severson’s vetting process isn’t working: he hired a known killer who was rejected by a neighboring police department. He gave that reject another badge and another gun. Another license to kill.
Better hiring practices are only one of the problems with cop culture.
Look, it’s an easy bet that the Wauwatosa, Wis., Police chief who hired Mensah in the first place would make just about the same claim as Severson: his department thoroughly vetting Joseph Mensah before hiring him.
And just what good did that do?
In fact, few, if any, police chiefs or sheriffs would ever admit to not doing
“an extensive, thorough and exhaustive hiring process.” Damned few.
Sheriff Severson’s claim rings incredibly calloused and hollow. It’s specious. Everybody claims it, and it doesn’t change a damned thing.
In 2015, The Washington Post began its own database of killings by police.
The Post maintains its database because there is no such national database run by the federal government. That’s another problem with the American criminal justice system. And the reasons why there is no national database are still more problems — but that’s for another essay.
The Washington Post database shows that there have been over 5,000 deaths at the hands of cops in this country in the past five years.
There are a steady thousand killings by cops every year, nearly all of which are inevitably excused by our criminal justice system. Almost none of which ever even go to trial.
Cops kill Black people at twice the rate of White people. They kill Hispanics at almost the same rate as Blacks.
Over 95 percent of those killed are young males.
At least 30 percent of those killed had mental health problems.
Only about 14 percent of the killings were recorded by body cameras.
And the shocking facts go on and on. So do the killings.
These numbers don’t change from year to year, because cop culture doesn’t change.
And they also don’t change because cops and their politicians have thoroughly shaped and cemented America’s criminal justice institutions in their own favor.
Last year, American cops killed about a thousand people.
Newly-hired Waukesha County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Mensah killed three of them, before he was even hired.
And he got away with all three, because he was already a cop when he killed.
Joseph Mensah was hired again by another law enforcement agency, even after his own department got rid of him.
And that happened because of cop culture.
Very clearly, Sheriff Eric Severson doesn’t give a damn about the problems in his profession. Or the damage and danger he’s created for his own community. Or their trust in his agency, or America’s trust in cops everywhere.
Clearly Sheriff Eric Severson doesn’t give a damn that he has just given Joseph Mensah another license to kill.
This smacks of everything that’s wrong with cop culture.
But what would you expect, anyway?
Just look at Sheriff Severson’s politics (which he made public).
Eric Severson is a White male.
He’s a cop.
And he’s a proud member of the Wisconsin Repugnant Party.
The party that supports Donald Trump and Trump’s sedition, no matter what the cost.
Severson supports Trump, that seditious sonofabitch who tried to overthrow our Constitution.
Trump, who tried to overturn our democratic election so he could keep power.
Trump, who launched an insurrection that killed three American law enforcement officers.
Any cop can swallow all that, well of course he can overlook the killings of three citizens of color in five years. Easy-peezy.