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Judge picks prosecutors to decide charges against Joseph Mensah

Posted at 12:05 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 18:51:55-05

A judge has selected the special prosecutors who will decide whether to file charges against a former Wauwatosa police officer who killed a man in a park.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Glenn Yamahiro announced Wednesday that he has authorized Milwaukee attorney Scott Hansen and La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke to serve as special prosecutors in former Wauwatosa officer Joseph Mensah's case.

Mensah shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. after discovering him sleeping in a park after hours in 2016. Anderson was one of three people Mensah killed during a five-year stint on the Wauwatosa department.

Prosecutors opted not to charge him in any of the deaths, but Yamahiro decided to reopen Anderson's case this summer.

“We have a lot of investigating to do,” said Hansen as he left the Milwaukee County Courthouse Wednesday. “We intend to do a very thorough, independent job.”

Hansen and Gruenke will go through all the evidence. They could ask police for more reports and issue subpoenas. They have 60 days to make a final charging decision.

Attorney Kimberley Motley, who represents the Anderson family, says these special prosecutors are very experienced and already well-established.

“I have yet to learn more about them, I don’t know them, but I do think it's good the judge didn't pick someone who wants to make a name for themselves with this case,” Motley said.

Hansen has been with Milwaukee law firm Reinhart, Boerner, VanDeuren for nearly 50 years.

Gruenke has been a prosecutor for 25 years and has served as the La Crosse County DA for the past 13.

“I also think there is a benefit to have someone outside the city of Milwaukee to assist with the investigation,” Motley said. “We are hopeful.”

Hansen and Gruenke will only be reviewing the shooting death of Jay Anderson. Mensah was patrolling Madison Park in 2016, when he found Anderson sleeping in his car. Mensah says Anderson reached for a gun as he walked up to the car. Anderson was shot several times.

Mensah was involved in two other fatal shootings, over five years as a Wauwatosa Police Officer. In 2015, he shot and killed Antonio Gonzalez, 29. In 2020, Mensah shot and killed Alvin C, 17, outside Mayfair Mall.

All of Mensah's shootings were ruled justified by the Milwaukee County District Attorney.

Jay Anderson's parents shared their hope in this process.

“I think it represents a step forward to justice,” said Linda Anderson.

Mensah resigned from the Wauwatosa Police Department in 2020 after collecting a severance payment. He is now working for the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

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