Riots and looting near Milwaukee after DA decides not to charge a police officer who shot a teenager

Wauwatosa is a small suburban city just west of Milwaukee. Yesterday the Milwaukee County District Attorney sent a letter to the Wauwatosa police chief announcing that he would not be bringing charges against police officer Joseph Mensah (who is black) in the death of a black 17-year-old named Alvin Cole. Officer Mensah had been involved in two previous fatal shootings in the past five years. The reaction to the decision not to charge Mensah started as a peaceful protest but turned violent and destructive as it got later.

The Shooting of Alvin Cole

The shooting of Alvin Cole happened in February after Cole entered a local indoor mall with a group of friends. He was carrying a stolen gun which he’d posted a photo of himself holding (on Facebook) the previous night. Though only 17, Cole had prior felony convictions which made it illegal for him to possess a gun. At the mall, Cole got into an argument with an adult male and was flashing the gun inside the mall. Police were called because someone saw the gun.

Police arrived just as Cole and his friends were leaving the mall. The group ran and mall security and police chased them on foot. There was a shot fired as Cole was about to be caught by mall security. Police later determined he had shot himself in the left forearm. He went down on the ground as police surrounded him but was still holding the gun. Three different officers claim he pointed the gun in their direction. Officer Mensah claimed he saw the gun aimed toward him from under or over Cole’s shoulder and Mensah fired five shots. There is video of some of the incident which police assembled into the clip below. Police later discovered that the extended magazine was not in the gun, meaning the one shot Cole fired was the only one he could have fired.

After reviewing the facts, the DA wrote: “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. I do not believe that the State could disprove self-defense or defense of others in this case and therefore could not meet the burden
required to charge Officer Mensah.”

The Protests/Riots

Given the circumstances, the city of Wauwatosa issued a curfew starting last night at 7 pm. The Mayor issued a statement about the DA’s announcement which said in part: “Given recent events in Kenosha, Louisville, and other cities around the country, it should be clear that we all must do everything we can to keep our community peaceful. Violence is not the answer; it only impoverishes communities and brings more pain and despair.”

The WI national guard was called in to back up the police:

The family of Alvin Cole went to meet with the DA. There was already a crowd assembled:

After learning that the officer would not be charged, the family spoke to the media:

An attorney for the family also spoke about the outcome of the case.

And after that the protesters started to march:

Protesters soon took over part of the freeway:

Police eventually caught up with them and began making arrests:

Most of the protesters returned to the city streets and a new march began:

As it got dark, things got ugly. I think this man is shouting, “Tear up the white folks’ s**t!”

Things began to get violent:

A few people even threw rocks at the windows of private homes:

At least one homeowner told the protesters to get off his lawn:

Here’s what the homeowner was complaining about:

I think this was a different home.

A group of people looted a gas station convenience store:

Apparently a news crew fled from the crowd by driving on a sidewalk:

This morning, Julio Rosas captured video of some of the damage:

Police declared an unlawful assembly but that and the curfew obviously didn’t succeed in preventing things from turning violent last night. Here’s the police video laying out the facts of the shooting. The Wauwatosa PD is scheduled to get body cameras next year but did not have them at the time of this shooting which is why police had to rely on cameras mounted in the patrol cars.

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