A Wisconsin police officer will not be charged with a crime for fatally shooting a 17-year-old Black teenager in February.
The Milwaukee district attorney announced the decision Wednesday, the culmination of an 8-month-long investigation into the shooting of Alvin Cole.Joseph Mensah, who is also Black, killed Cole on Feb. 2 in Wauwatosa, Wis., a west Milwaukee suburb.
Taleavia Cole This undated family photo shows Alvin Cole, left. Wauwatosa, Wis.
This undated family photo shows Alvin Cole, left. Wauwatosa, Wis. (Taleavia Cole/)
A third-party investigation found that Cole was carrying a gun and accidentally shot himself while running away from several officers at a Wauwatosa shopping mall, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Cole then collapsed to the ground.
Mensah told the independent investigators, led by former U.S. attorney Steven Biskupic, that Cole pointed his gun at Mensah, according to the Journal Sentinel. Mensah said he feared for his life and shot Cole five times, killing him. None of the other officers who had surrounded Cole fired a single shot.
But Biskupic’s investigation, which recommended Mensah be fired because he had fatally shot three people in five years, was ordered by the town’s police and fire commission and was not a criminal investigation.
That process was in the hands of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office. Chisholm met with Cole’s family Wednesday afternoon before announcing the decision not to charge Mensah, local NBC affiliate WTMJ reported.
Chisholm said Mensah was justified in gunning down Cole, and that prosecutors could not “disprove self-defense” and therefore could not charge Mensah, according to local FOX affiliate WITI.
Protesters, who had been demonstrating and demanding justice for Cole prior to Chisholm’s announcement, continued their efforts outside his Milwaukee office afterwards.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers called the National Guard to Wauwatosa earlier Wednesday in anticipation of protests in the city. City Hall and Mayfair Mall, where Mensah killed Cole, both closed early.
Before he killed Cole, Mensah fatally shot Antonio Gonzales in July 2015 and Jay Anderson Jr. in June 26, according to the Journal Sentinel. Investigators at the time ruled that those killings were justified.