Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber appeared on the Mark Belling show and revealed that police know the identity of the person who fired the shot during the Officer Joseph Mensah incident. He didn’t release it yet, though.
Update: The suspects are now named and charged. Learn more about them and read the criminal complaints here.
On August 9, Mensah wrote on Facebook that protesters came to his girlfriend’s house while he was there the night before and “tried to kill me.” He further wrote:
I was unarmed and tried to defend my property and the property of my girlfriend. We were both assaulted, punched, and ultimately shot at several times. A shotgun round missed me by inches. Not once did I ever swing back or reciprocate any the hate that was being directed at me. I am all for peaceful protests, even against me, but this was anything but peaceful. They threw toilet paper in her trees, broke her windows, and again, shot at both of us as they were trying to kill me. There are children that live there any the knew that. 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.
Weber said that there was “certainly an attempt to harm him (Mensah)” and adamantly disputed the accusation that Mensah, the Wauwatosa police officer involved in three fatal shootings since 2015, fired the protester’s gun himself.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm ruled the first two on-duty shootings justified self defense by Mensah. The third, of Alvin Cole, 17, outside Mayfair Mall, is still under investigation. The case ignited a flurry of protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests and riots throughout the country.
The chief’s statements came after state Rep. David Bowen released a statement in which he accused Mensah of lying. Among other claims, Bowen said, “No one tried to kill him or his girlfriend. That’s a lie. No one tried to enter his home. That’s a lie. There weren’t several shots fired. Another lie. No protestor shot at the back door. That’s the biggest lie. Joseph Mensah chose to engage with a protestor, and pulled the trigger on that individual’s firearm.”
Responding to Bowen’s statement that called Mensah a liar, Weber said, “If he was at the scene, I would certainly invite him to come and give us a statement so we can make sure we do a complete investigation.”
Weber said Bowen’s statement was “inaccurate, irresponsible and false.” He said it was a lie to say no one tried to kill Mensah and his girlfriend and that it was a lie to say no one tried to enter his home, and that it was a lie to say it was a peaceful protest. Weber said there was “nothing peaceful…that’s a joke.”
Listen to the full Belling podcast here.
A series of cell phone and neighbors’ surveillance camera videos have emerged that shed light on what happened at the home where Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah was staying.
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
Chief Barry Weber Told Belling That What Happened to Mensah Was a ‘Targeted, Planned Attack of Violence’
The chief released a statement that called what happened to Officer Mensah a “targeted, planned act of violence against one of our police officers.” He said police were looking through a large amount of high-quality video footage to identify suspects and vehicles involved. Authorities have a lot of video people haven’t seen and believe they will prove what they said in their initial statement once the investigation concludes.
When Belling asked whether protesters tried to kill or harm Mensah, Chief Barry Weber said: “Yes, there was certainly an attempt to harm him and whether or not they were shooting directly at him or in close proximity, anything could have happened with that crowd. The idea that Officer Mensah fired the gun is just ludicrous.”
He said that police do know who the individual is who fired the shot, answering “yes” to that question.
Weber said police have video from both protesters and neighbors. This clears up one mystery: Weber believes there “was one shot fired that we know of” and the other sounds on neighbor videos sounded like firecrackers to him.
Was the gunshot aimed at Mensah? “We believe that is indeed true.”
He believes that Mensah was out in his yard and then the protesters came on his property and then some altercation occurred after that. Weber noted that Mensah “absolutely” has a right to be on his own yard. He stated that vandalism occurred before the altercation.
Belling asked why police weren’t protecting Mensah/the house before. Weber said they were in the general vicinity. He criticized the Tosa town meeting, saying that the city allowed photos to be a backdrop for hours that said Mensah was a murderer and Weber was his accomplice. He said he was “outraged” the city allowed “those pictures to be the backdrop for five hours.”
He added that city officials have “emboldened what’s happening in our city” and said that “once citizens start swinging back and say they won’t tolerate it anymore, the pendulum will swing back. That’s where we are at right now.” He believes the Wauwatosa community “by and large supports the Wauwatosa PD.” This is disputed by protesters who are calling for Weber’s firing.
“As long as I have the position as chief of police. I’ll do what is necessary to keep order in our city…” he said.
Asked if he’d welcome support from federal government or another agency, he said, “We will take any support we can get. I’m not sure there are any federal crimes that have been violated.” However, he said Tosa police have been in contact with the US Attorney.
Mensah’s Girlfriend Has Shared Photos of Her Injuries
Mensah’s girlfriend gave her account on Facebook, writing,
Joseph and I were shot at today. Shot by cowards who were inches away from us, but missed. They shot into MY home. One gun was a shotgun. They physically attacked Joseph and I. They broke the windows to MY house. They shot into my house causing damage to the brick. You proved nothing today. Now, I have to come up with the funds to replace your damages that proved nothing.
You completely forgot what this movement is about. There is a high volume of children on that block that you could have harmed.
I WILL still be returning to work to protect the community that I love though.
Mensah’s girlfriend, Patti Swayka, wrote in a public post, “We BOTH remember why we placed our right hand to the trust of God. ‘Trust that God will lead you out of the fire, but you must allow him to guide you.’ I still believe I have the most rewarding job and I can make a difference.”
Disclosure: Jessica McBride, a contributor at Wisconsin Right Now, is the niece of Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride. Jim Piwowarczyk, the owner of Wisconsin Right Now, is the author of this story.