WAUWATOSA — The Mayor of Wauwatosa canceled a meeting with the State Representative who was at the protest against Officer Joseph Mensah that resulted in a gunshot being fired.
State Representative David Bowen says he scheduled a meeting with Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride to talk more about the events that happened outside of Mensah’s girlfriend’s home Saturday.
“The idea was to make sure the Mayor is hearing directly, more than one side of the narrative being shared by Officer Joseph Mensah, who has no credibility and the Wauwatosa Police Department has cosigned his lies he’s pushing,” Bowen said.
However, McBride canceled the meeting saying, “On the advice of the City Attorney, I canceled my meeting with Rep. Bowen."
Bowen says this was disheartening in regards to how the investigation is being handled.
“I think it cemented [my feelings],” Bowen said. “I definitely had my presumptions about if this could be done fairly but this is clearly showing, especially with pressure from right-wing Republican groups and figureheads, to create this into a bigger issue.”
Integrity is at the core of this argument. Typically, comments about an investigation from law enforcement are taken as fact. Comments from an elected official about his experience are generally taken as fact.
According to Bowen, when protesters arrived where Mensah was staying, it was Officer Mensah who agitated the protesters.
“From the time protesters got to his home, he was irate,” Bowen said. “He was out of control. he was provoking people to engage in violence. That doesn’t sound like the character of someone who is an upstanding citizen, let alone to display the conduct as an officer to uphold the law.”
According to the Wauwatosa Police Department, “Officer Mensah tried to engage in a dialogue with them but was physically assaulted. As he retreated into his home, armed protesters approached the rear door and one fired a shotgun round into his back door.”
Video from the evening shows protesters with rolls of toilet paper, throwing it on the home and in the trees.
“I’d say, none of the actions the protesters displayed that day deserve the vitriol and aggressive behavior Joseph Mensah displayed that day,” Bowen said. “Honestly, it’s childish. Kids will do pranks and TP someone’s house or tree and it’s cleaned up and everyone moves on. Joseph Mensah made the decision to come outside, provoke and antagonize protesters, spray with pepper spray, use his dog and threaten to sic his dog onto protesters. He displayed behavior that I believe is beneath what was called for a member who is supposed to represent the police department.”
The Wauwatosa Police Department has not confirmed any of the details laid out by representative Bowen but multiple witnesses, who wished to remain anonymous, say they had similar experiences.
There is also the issue of the gunshot. Wauwatosa Police say an armed protester approached Mensah's rear door and fired a single shotgun round into it. In his initial statement, Rep. Bowen said, "Joseph Mensah chose to engage with a protestor, and pulled the trigger on that individual’s firearm."
Wednesday, Bowen clarified that statement, saying, "From witness accounts," Bowen said. "I saw the struggle ensue. When two people are engaging in aggressive behavior, close to each other, you're not going to be able to see everything. From direct witness accounts, it's very clear, Officer Mensah displayed behavior to push the safety on that firearm and to fire it. He saw an opportunity to paint protesters as this violent mob and it played into his testimony."
Ultimately, who should we believe? Representative Bowen claims he would put his integrity up against anybody. The Wauwatosa Police Department and the investigators there take an oath to serve and protect the citizens of the community.
The police department could not give specifics, but they say they have evidence to disprove some of Bowen’s statements, including "high quality, video footage from the scene," and WPOA President John Milotzky said, “I am very confident when this investigation is concluded, evidence will dispute Representative Bowen's claims."
“Officer Mensah has killed three people over the last five years and discharged his weapon 19 times,” Bowen said. “The City of Wauwatosa Police Department has not held him accountable. Instead, they have compromised and try to hold his actions as necessary and ok and I think that’s a big problem. I have a track record of integrity I will match up with anybody’s any day. I have displayed nothing but upstanding character to make sure I represent the people in my district and to advocate for the change and future this state needs to see.”
Friday, the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission will hold a special meeting to discuss possible action against Joseph Mensah.