Ronald Demetrian Bell Jr. and William Deaval Lofton are facing charges of felony 2nd-degree recklessly endangering safety and were ordered to have no contact with Officer Joseph Mensah and his girlfriend, according to court records obtained by Wisconsin Right Now. The charges are in connection with the high-profile incident at Officer Joseph Mensah’s girlfriend’s home, a law enforcement source said.
Mensah previously wrote on Facebook that he and his girlfriend, who is also a police officer, were shot at and assaulted during that incident.
Bell is also accused of “Battery or Threat to Judge, Prosecutor, or Law Enforcement Officer” as a Party to a Crime, also a felony, the court records show. Bell and Lofton are listed as co-defendants.
Update: Wisconsin Right Now tracked down Bell’s mother for an in-person interview; she confirmed what a source already had: That he’s accused of being involved in the shooting incident at Mensah’s girlfriend’s house. Read more about Bell’s background and the mother’s comments here. Wisconsin Right Now also confirmed his Facebook page, which contains a tribute to the Gangster Disciples gang and pictures of what appear to be drugs.
Wisconsin Right Now was the first media outlet to break the story on Aug. 18. On Aug. 19, we obtained the criminal complaint against Bell and his co-defendant William Deaval Lofton. It says that a “caravan of citizens and vehicles” that were previously at Mayfair Mall arrived at the home of Mensah’s girlfriend. “Numerous individuals engaged in a confrontation with (Mensah’s girlfriend and Mensah) outside of the residence,” the complaint says. “During the confrontation, both (Mensah’s girlfriend and Mensah) were assaulted by numerous individuals and sustained bodily harm.”
According to a Facebook page of Bell’s confirmed by Wisconsin Right Now, Bell posted a tribute to the Gangster Disciples street gang, flashed large quantities of cash, and posted pictures of what appeared to be drugs. You can see more about that page below.
The complaint alleges that Bell “admitted that he was the individual with the shotgun during the Aug. 8 incident…Bell also stated that the gun discharged while he was holding it, striking the residence, while he was confronting (Mensah and his girlfriend). Bell agreed that the behavior was reckless and dangerous when he physically confronted (Mensah) while holding a loaded shotgun and that he put several people in danger when the shotgun discharged. Bell also acknowledged that he was striking (Mensah) and that he knew (Mensah) was a police officer.” He had been at several “other events” regarding “(Mensah’s) actions with the same group of people.”
The complaint alleges that Bell was carrying a shotgun and “joined the assault” on Mensah and his girlfriend. “During the assault, Bell was holding a shotgun and it discharged, striking the doorframe to the residence with several people, including (Mensah and his girlfriend) nearby.” After the assault, a video shows a black Yukon GMC driving by with a person on the roof. It stopped to pick up Bell, the complaint says, and was driven by Lofton, the complaint alleges. Investigators found a hole consistent with a shotgun slug in the door frame of Mensah’s girlfriend’s house.
The complaint says that Niles McKee “acknowledged that he provided the shotgun used at the residence of (Mensah and his girlfriend). McKee stated that he placed the shotgun inside of the vehicle being driven by Lofton, which was also occupied by Bell. McKee got back into the vehicle of another protester who then followed the group to the home of (Mensah and his girlfriend). Once McKee arrived there, he saw that Bell had removed his (McKee’s) shotgun from its
case and was carrying it via its attached sling. McKee also stated that Lofton informed him that Bell had already loaded the shotgun.”
The complaint alleges that McKee stated that after several people confronted (Mensah and his girlfriend), a smaller group gave chase and continued accosting (Mensah and his girlfriend). McKee stated that during a struggle on the stoop of the residence, McKee heard the shotgun discharge. McKee stated that after the crowd began to disperse, Bell approached McKee and gave him back the shotgun. McKee then placed the shotgun back inside of its case and placed it back inside Lofton’s vehicle. McKee stated that he then got on top of Lofton’s vehicle to look at the crowd and Lofton began to drive away.”
Wauwatosa police did not return requests for comment on Aug. 18; they have not publicly released the suspects’ names, although Police Chief Barry Weber previously stated publicly that the suspect accused of shooting at Mensah was identified.
A law enforcement source told Wisconsin Right Now Aug. 18 that the charges against both Bell and Lofton stem from the highly publicized incident at the home of Mensah’s police officer girlfriend. Mensah said previously in a statement on Facebook that he and his girlfriend were attacked and shot at during that incident when a group of demonstrators came to her home; cell phone videos captured people milling on her grass and throwing toilet paper. Wauwatosa police say a gun was fired. not by Mensah, and that he was targeted with a planned act of violence.
Bell was taken into custody on Aug. 13, and booked into the Milwaukee County Jail, records show. Lofton was taken into custody the day before, according to jail records.
The cases had been kept quiet from the public even though the criminal complaint was filed against Bell on Aug. 16. The law enforcement source said that’s because the investigation is ongoing and charges could result against others.
Mensah is the Wauwatosa police officer who was involved in three on-duty fatal shootings since 2015. The District Attorney ruled the first two justified self defense and is still reviewing the third, but protests have erupted for weeks, with calls by Black Lives Matter activists for Mensah’s firing. The Common Council and Mayor signed a resolution urging that, but the decision is up to the Fire and Police Commission, which hasn’t yet made a decision. The protests culminated in a chaotic, violent scene outside Mensah’s girlfriend’s home.
Bell was also charged in a separate case with misdemeanor battery with use of a dangerous weapon in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, records show. The complaint was filed on Aug. 10, and an arrest warrant for Bell was authorized on Aug. 11. That criminal complaint says that Bell is accused of starting to push a woman and attack her. She noticed her left fist was cut, and felt he had something sharp in his hand. He’s accused of starting to stab a person who intervened by spraying him with pepper spray. That person claimed Bell had a knife, that complaint says. It’s not related to the Mensah incident.
The incident at Mensah’s girlfriend’s home occurred on Aug. 8.
Mensah declined to comment on the development when reached by Wisconsin Right Now. His brother, Christopher Mensah, who started a GoFundMe for Joseph Mensah, told Wisconsin Right Now, “I can’t comment on the case due to the ongoing investigation.” The GoFundMe page has raised more than $77,000.
Both Co-Defendants Were Ordered to Have No Contact With Officer Mensah & His Girlfriend
The court records show that, in both cases, Bell, 28, and Lofton, 23, were ordered to have “no contact” with Joseph M. and Patricia S. of the 3700 block of N. 100th St., Wauwatosa. That matches the names of Officer Mensah, his girlfriend and the block where the incident occurred. The court records for Bell also ban him from carrying firearms. The no contact order against Lofton mentions Joseph M. and Patricia S. but doesn’t include the firearm ban that Bell is facing. However, a firearm ban was included in Lofton’s $750 bail conditions. “Court orders defendant TURNED OVER to JUSTICE Point for LEVEL 3 Supervision. No possession of dangerous weapons or firearms,” the records say.
According to court records, Bell appeared in intake court for an initial appearance that same day. His attorney made a motion to dismiss the charges, which was denied. He was declared indigent, and it was determined the public defender’s office would provide counsel. The case was assigned to Judge David Feiss. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 24 at 1:30 p.m. Cash bond for Bell was set at $7,500. “Court ordered defendant TURNED OVER TO Justice Point for SUPERVISION Level 5. No possession of dangerous weapons or firearms,” the court records say.
Lofton had his initial appearance the same day and a court official found probable cause for the case to advance. He did not qualify for a public defender. He has a preliminary hearing the same day as Bell.
Bell lives in the 1710 block of W. Atkinson Ave. in Milwaukee. Lofton lives in the 2140 block of N. 16th St. in Milwaukee.
Chief Weber Previously Said That Mensah Faced a ‘Targeted, Planned Act of Violence’
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.
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 fired the protester’s gun himself.
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
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.
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.
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 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.