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In-Depth: Prosecutors decline to charge Mensah in deadly shooting, changes suggested for future investigations

Posted at 10:13 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 23:32:34-04

MILWAUKEE — Special prosecutors pointed out several frustrations with the original investigation into the deadly police shooting of Jay Anderson Jr. in Wauwatosa in 2016.

After a month-long investigation, special prosecutors Tim Gruenke and Scott Hansen say the key piece of evidence available is the dash camera video. It shows Anderson Jr., who was previously asleep in his car, drop his hand towards a gun former Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah says was in the front seat.

"Whether you think Mensah's a liar or not a liar, the dash camera is showing what actually happened," Hansen said. "And that informs whether or not a reasonable person in his position would have thought he had to shoot first to save himself."

There was no body camera video. Wauwatosa police did not have them at the time. There was also no audio recording of the conversation between Mensah and Anderson Jr. before the shooting. The special prosecutors say an officer moved the gun before investigators could process the scene.

RELATED COVERAGE: Prosecutors decline to charge Mensah in Anderson Jr. deadly shooting

"It was a mistake to move that gun before it was photographed, because you want to exactaly know where the gun was and what the position of it was," Hansen said.

"And another argument for body cam," Gruenke said.

Milwaukee police took over the investigation. In their special report, the special prosecutors say the Milwaukee Police Department did not record any interviews with witnesses, because it isn't their policy.

"This notion we interview people in connection with a police shooting when someone's dead and not bother to record the interview is completely ridiculous," Milwaukee County Court Judge Glenn Yamahiro said.

The special prosecutors suggest the state Department of Justice should investigate all police-involved shootings or at least form a new statewide investigating agency for this purpose. A bipartisan bill for this failed to pass this spring.

"It's like there's a million things they did wrong with this investigation, it's like, oh well, you know, this investigation was just a bad investigation," Anderson family attorney Kimberley Motley said.

The Anderson family is suing Mensah.

In a statement, Mensah's attorney says, "Facts matter. The hearing conducted by Attorney Kimberley Motley was one-sided and not complete. Officer Mensah was not able to present evidence, including video or expert testimony. Officer Mensah also was not able to cross-examine Attorney Motley’s witnesses and challenge the credibility of their opinions. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and now Special Prosecutors Scott Hansen and Tim Greunke have cleared Officer Mensah of criminal liability. Officer Mensah wishes to thank the community, his friends, and family for their overwhelming support."

Prosecutors decline to charge Mensah

Special prosecutors have decided not to pursue charges against Mensah in the deadly police shooting of Anderson Jr. in Wauwatosa in 2016.

Prosecutors said they've determined Officer Mensah did intentionally, beyond a reasonable doubt, shoot and kill Jay Anderson Jr. in Wauwatosa. However, in order to convict, it needs to be proven that Mensah's actions were not self-defense.

Prosecutors said in his final moments, Anderson's hands were raised. He then lowered a hand to where his weapon was, then raised his hands back up quickly.

The prosecutors showed those stills and footage to dozens of people, a majority of whom determined Mensah acted reasonably based on jury instructions for homicide and self-defense. Gruenke and Hansen determined with that in mind, there's not enough evidence to prove Mensah's actions were unlawful.

Therefore, no charges are being filed against Mensah.

After the prosecutors announced their decision, the attorney for the Anderson family asked the judge to appoint new special prosecutors. That request was denied, with the judge saying he believes Hansen and Gruenke looked at the case with a fresh perspective.

The judge said he never thought the case was a "slam dunk." He said he has kept an open mind. "It's not about the court having an agenda," he said and said he follows the statute.

Anderson's mom, Linda Anderson, spoke after the decision as well, saying, "To tell me that this is just not going to happen again, I'm not stopping, I'm not stopping til that man is behind bars."

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