WAUWATOSA — The city of Wauwatosa has ended its overnight curfew after five nights of protests in response to the district attorney’s decision to clear Officer Joseph Mensah in the shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole.
Wauwatosa’s mayor and police chief said Monday that they stand by their decisions to enforce the curfew and call on other law enforcement agencies along with the Wisconsin National Guard for assistance.
Between Wednesday and Sunday, protesters clashed with Wauwatosa police resulting in many tense moments including teargas, pellets to smashed windows in the dark of night.
Mayor Dennis McBride said the city spent months preparing for outcry from the district attorney’s decision on Officer Mensah.
“Our primary goal was, is and always has been to make sure that no one got hurt and fortunately with the cooperation of the community and with the good work of the police department we accomplished that,” Mayor McBride said.
The mother and sisters of Alvin Cole were among more than 60 people who were arrested since the curfew went into effect last Wednesday. Chief Barry Weber said his officers assisted other departments in that encounter.
“We gave them several warnings and they did not comply with those warnings, so they were arrested with other people also,” Chief Weber said.
When it comes to Officer Mensah, Chief Weber sees no reason why he can’t return to the force despite an independent investigator hired by the city’s Police and Fire Commission saying Mensah should be fired due to the likelihood of a fourth on-duty shooting.
“I’ve never heard of any police officer ever being disciplined ever because of something they may or may not do in the future so to say or to speculate that it’s likely that it will happen in the future, that’s not factual,” Chief Weber said.
Officer Mensah shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr., Antonio Gonzales, and Alvin Cole within the past five years. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm cleared Mensah of criminal wrongdoing in each of the three fatal shootings.
A few months ago, Mayor McBride said he would prefer Mensah not to serve in Wauwatosa due to the distrust in the community. During a virtual news conference Monday, he said that’s not his decision to make.
“I do stand by what I said a few months ago, but at this point we have to be very clear as the community that there is a legal process underway, and I am not going to put my thumb on the scale, and I’m not going to put additional pressure on the police and fire commissioners,” Mayor McBride said.
Mayor McBride and Chief Weber said they believe shutting down protests that were deemed unlawful saved businesses and homes from being destroyed last week.
While the protest curfew is no longer in place, Chief Weber said the National Guard and neighboring law enforcement agencies are ready to respond on short notice.