WAUWATOSA, Wis. — Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah's resignation came just weeks before a scheduled hearing that could have led to his firing.
During a virtual meeting on Tuesday night, Wauwatosa's Common Council approved a separation agreement with Mensah.
Officer Mensah was cleared of wrongdoing in three fatal shootings, most recently that of 17-year-old Alvin Cole.
The shootings coupled with the decision not to charge Mensah sparked recent protests.
"I think it’s very inappropriate that we weren’t informed of this by the Wauwatosa common counsel. I think it was very frankly disrespectful," said Kimberley Motley, an attorney representing the Cole family.
Motley also represents the families of Jay Anderson and Antonio Gonzalez, both were also killed by Officer Mensah.
"We don’t agree with the way it was done. We believe that he should have been fired. We are concerned that he has the ability to go to a different community and join their police force which we think obviously should not happen," said Motley.
According to the agreement, the City of Wauwatosa will make severance payments to Mensah equal to 13 months of pay through the end of 2021.
Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said the severance along with benefits adds up to nearly $130,000.
"That sounds like a good amount of money, but it actually is probably less than what the city would spend paying for his attorney's fees and our attorney's fees if we went through hearing at the Police and Fire Commission," said Mayor McBride.
The mayor added state law and collective bargaining agreements would have required the city to cover the costs on both sides.
The agreement also requires Mensah to dismiss his pending claim regarding his suspension from the Police and Fire Commission.
Mayor McBride said as far as he knows Mensah could work as an officer in another community.
As for Wauwatosa, there is still work to do.
"The departure of Officer Mensah doesn’t heal all our wounds. It doesn’t solve all of our problems. We still have to rebuild trust in both directions between the community and the police department," said Mayor McBride.
"These families are very strong-willed families are going to continue to push for justice. Frankly, Joseph Mensah no longer being in the police force is just one of our goals as the families have indicated," said Motley.
Motley went on to say they are continuing to call for Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber's removal, adding he failed to supervise Mensah properly.
Wauwatosa's Police and Fire Commission still needs to take action for this settlement to take effect. The commission will meet Thursday.
Once the commission settles pending matters, Mensah’s resignation would go into effect at the end of the month.
Attempts to reach Officer Mensah and his attorney for comment were unsuccessful.