WAUWATOSA — Shots were fired at a protest Saturday night outside a home owned by the girlfriend of a suspended Wauwatosa police officer. Officer Joseph Mensah is under investigation for his involvement in three separate fatal shootings in the past five years. He told TMJ4 News he’s all for peaceful protests, but said that wasn’t the case on Saturday.
In early July the Wauwatosa Police and Fire commission suspended Mensah from the police department, but people throughout the area continue to protest with the hopes that charges are filed and Mensah is fired.
On Saturday night those protests escalated by 100th and West Vienna St. in Wauwatosa.
Cell phone video from a resident captured protesters throwing toilet paper in trees outside the house.
Cell phone video from resident in neighborhood by 100th & Vienna in #Wauwatosa shows protesters vandalizing outside of Joseph Mensah's girlfriend's house last night. @WauwatosaPD say as Mensah tried to talk w/ the crowd he was physically assaulted & that some1 fired a shot @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/jNMrU7TXI3— Lauren Linder (@lauren_linder) August 9, 2020
Renae Johnson watched it unfold.
“It was loud. There was a lot of mayhem and people were screaming. They were on the bullhorns and you know saying you should be arrested,” Johnson said. “I know that there was one gunshot. I heard it.”
Wauwatosa police said a group of about 50 to 60 people gathered around the home of Mensah’s girlfriend and vandalized it. They said as Mensah tried to talk with the crowd, he was physically assaulted, and that someone in the group fired a shot at the backdoor.
TMJ4 News saw Mensah and his girlfriend looking over the damage on Sunday. They didn’t want to go on-camera but said they were in the process of moving and this was the first time protesters came onto the property.
Here's suspended @WauwatosaPD officer Joseph Mensah & girlfriend looking at damage outside her home. They didn't want to talk on-camera, but tell me protesters prevented him from going inside & chased him w/ shotgun. Says he's for peaceful protests but says this wasn't that @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/ooOZBpCaEu— Lauren Linder (@lauren_linder) August 9, 2020
Mensah and his girlfriend said protesters prevented Mensah from going inside the housed chased him with a shotgun. He also said protesters broke the windows of the backdoor.
In a post on his Facebook Page, Mensah wrote the protesters, “tried to kill me,” adding “the irony in all of this is that they chanted Black Lives Matter the entire time, but had zero regard for any of the black children that live there or me, a black man.”
TMJ4 News reached out to local protest leaders. No one wanted to go on camera, but they did say they do not condone violence at these marches.
Police also stressed that they support peoples’ right to peacefully protest, along with Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride.
Crime tape remains on street & toilet paper in a tree after protest turns violent last night outside house of Joseph Mensah’s girlfriend. Window of back door also broken. Mensah is suspended @WauwatosaPD officer behind 3 diff. fatal shootings in past 5 yrs @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/CLyLHi4q0o— Lauren Linder (@lauren_linder) August 9, 2020
McBride and the Common Council have called for Mensah’s termination, but have also said Mensah has rights to due process under the law.
The mayor released a statement, saying in part:
During this difficult time, I ask all members of the community to reflect on their personal responsibility to engage in responsible and civil behavior. Now more than ever, it is essential that we all work together to heal a divided community. This will require patience and an understanding that, though changes must occur, they can only occur through the functioning of democratic processes and not through violence.
On Monday, McBride plans to meet with police and city officials to figure out how they can keep Mensah safe.
The investigation into the incidents Saturday night is ongoing. Police continue to seek suspects.