Jay-Z and his social justice initiative Team Roc has formally called for the prosecution of Wisconsin police officer Joseph Mensah after he shot and killed three men in five years while on duty.
Mensah, a police officer in the Milwaukee suburb Wauwatosa, fatally shot Alvin Cole, Antonio Gonzales, and Jay Anderson during three separate incidents between 2015 and 2020. Mensah, who remains on active duty, is currently under review for the killing of Cole, which happened most recently. However, the incidents involving Gonzales and Anderson were considered to be self-defense, and Mensah did not face charges.
Team Roc called for the firing and prosecution of Mensah in a full-page open letter addressed to district attorney John Chisholm in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “How many more people have to die at the hands of Officer Joseph Mensah?” Team Roc questioned. “Nineteen shots and three deaths in five years are not a pattern of accidents.” Team Roc has also demanded that officers are equipped with mandatory body cameras.
According to FOX6Now, on July 16, 2015, Mensah, along with another officer, fired eight shots at Gonzales. At the time, police claimed that the 29-year-old, who had a history of mental health issues, was wielding a sword when officers were called to his apartment that night. Officers maintain that when Gonzales came out of the apartment they ordered him to drop the weapon, but he refused, and they opened fire. Gonzales died at the scene. Mensah’s actions during the encounter were ruled justifiable, and he would be awarded a Medal of Valor by his department.
At the time, Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber released a statement. “I believe our officers were confronted with a very dangerous situation, and even though it is very early in the investigation, it appears they acted with courage and conducted themselves properly,” Weber explained.
Regarding Anderson, Mensah maintained that the victim attempted to reach for a gun during their interaction that night on June 23, 2016. According to the Milwaukee police investigative summary, Mensah was patrolling Madison Park around 3 a.m. when he says he saw Anderson moving around inside his car. Mensah walked over to Anderson’s car and woke him up and then noticed he had a gun in the passenger’s seat, he told investigators. Mensah drew his service weapon and ordered Anderson to raise his hands. During the interaction, Anderson allegedly attempted to reach for his legally owned gun four times before Mensah shot him five times in the head and once in the shoulder. Mensah remotely activated his dashboard camera only after firing his weapon. An autopsy found Anderson was legally intoxicated When confronted by Mensah.
In the case of Cole, which is currently under review, police claimed that the 17-year-old shot first with a stolen gun during a police chase following a disturbance near Mayfair Mall on Feb. 2. Cole’s family, however, disputes the police’s version of what took place, saying the teen did not fire the weapon. Last month the families of all three men killed marched together in protest ending at Mayfair Mall.
The Mensah case is just one of several Jay-Z and Team Roc have taken an active interest in. In January and February, they filed two lawsuits against Mississippi prisons for “barbaric” conditions.