A Wisconsin police officer who fatally shot an armed Black teenager in a mall parking lot in February and, since 2015, killed two other men while on duty has agreed to resign, the government of Wauwatosa said on Tuesday night.

Joseph Mensah, a Black police officer in the Wauwatosa Police Department, agreed to resign on Nov. 30 as part of a “separation agreement” with the Wauwatosa Peace Officer’s Association, the police union, and the Common Council, the governing body of Wauwatosa, a city about five miles west of Milwaukee.

The agreement was approved by the council on Tuesday night.

“Now is the time for all of us to come together and heal,” Mayor Dennis McBride said in a statement. “We’ve made substantial progress during 2020, and in the coming year we’ll continue to focus on positive change for our community.”

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. A spokeswoman for the Police Department and a lawyer for Officer Mensah did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Officer Mensah shot Alvin Cole, 17, on Feb. 2 after the teenager refused to put down a firearm and ran away from the police after a confrontation at a mall, according to John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County district attorney, who issued a 14-page letter last month saying that he would not prosecute Officer Mensah.

“In this case, there is sufficient evidence that Officer Mensah had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary and that belief was objectively reasonable,” Mr. Chisholm said in the letter, which detailed his findings to the city’s police chief, Barry Weber.

On Wednesday, Kimberley Motley, a lawyer for the family of Mr. Cole, said that she had filed a public records request with the city seeking to determine the terms of the separation.

“We certainly welcome the fact that Joseph Mensah will no longer be on the Police Department,” she said. “He should have been terminated.”

Ms. Motley said Chief Weber had failed to keep city residents safe by keeping Officer Mensah on the force for so many years.

“Had Chief Weber properly supervised and terminated him years ago, Alvin Cole would be alive today,” she said.

The district attorney, Mr. Chisholm, said in October that, according to officers, Mr. Cole had pointed the gun at the police at one point during the February confrontation, and that he had fired the gun while running away.

ImageAlvin Cole was killed in February outside a mall by Officer Mensah. In October, the Milwaukee County district attorney said he would not prosecute the officer.
Credit…Taleavia Cole/Taleavia Cole, via Associated Press

Mr. Chisholm’s decision came on the same day an independent investigator issued a 81-page report that recommended Officer Mensah be fired. The investigator, Steven M. Biskupic, said in his report that Officer Mensah had made “inconsistent and misleading” statements about fatal shootings.

In the case of Mr. Cole’s shooting, Mr. Biskupic said Mr. Cole did not fire at police officers during the pursuit and had accidentally shot himself in the arm.

But when Officer Mensah spoke on a radio interview in July about the shooting, he never corrected a host who said, “in fact the suspect ran out of the mall and shot at you,” according to the report.

Keeping Officer Mensah on the force would create “an extraordinary, unwarranted and unnecessary risk” to the department and the city, wrote Mr. Biskupic, a former federal prosecutor.

The district attorney’s decision set off protests that the police said grew violent after a group of protesters threw rocks at law enforcement officials. Officers used tear gas to dispel the crowds.

On Oct. 8, Mr. Cole’s mother, Tracy Cole, was placed in handcuffs after she was stopped in her car by police officers who were enforcing a curfew intended to quash protests, Ms. Motley said.

Credit…Scott Olson/Getty Images

In video of the stop that was posted on Facebook, she can be heard saying, “Don’t touch me,” and identifying herself as Mr. Cole’s mother as officers threaten to arrest her and use a Taser on her.

“I can’t breathe,” she can be heard saying. “I can’t believe you all did this to me.”

Ms. Motley said that Ms. Cole, who said she was hit in the head by one of the officers, was hospitalized after the confrontation.

Before the district attorney’s announcement, protesters had engaged in peaceful demonstrations, with people marching down the streets of the city’s downtown in the pouring rain and chanting the names of other people shot by Officer Mensah.

In 2016, he shot a man named Jay Anderson Jr. in his car after he said Mr. Anderson reached for a gun. In 2015, Officer Mensah and another officer fatally shot Antonio Gonzalez, who was wielding a sword when he was confronted by the police.

On Tuesday, Wauwatosa officials said the city had asked the police and the fire commission to meet “as soon as practical” to dismiss pending charges against Officer Mensah because he would soon no longer be an employee.

The statement did not describe what those charges were. Ms. Motley said the word “charges” referred to complaints she had filed against Officer Mensah that accused him of failing to follow proper procedure and of using excessive force in all three fatal shootings.

She said the complaints would have led to a public hearing.

Ms. Motley said the family would continue to press for more information from the Police Department about why Officer Mensah remained on the force for so long.

She added, “This fight is far from over.”


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