Ronald Demetrian Bell Jr., who is in the Milwaukee County Jail on felony charges for second-degree recklessly endangering safety and battery to a law enforcement officer, is accused in the highly publicized Aug. 8 shooting incident at Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah’s girlfriend’s house.
Wisconsin Right Now was the first media outlet to break that story on Aug. 18, through a law enforcement source, court records, and an interview with Bell’s mother, who acknowledged police thought he was the man involved. 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 later in this article.
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 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 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.”
Wisconsin Right Now previously reported that Bell, 28, and Lofton, both of Milwaukee, are facing charges of felony 2nd-degree recklessly endangering safety and were ordered to have no contact with Mensah and his girlfriend, according to court records obtained by Wisconsin Right Now. Mensah previously wrote on Facebook that he and his girlfriend, who is also a police officer, were shot at and assaulted during the incident. Wauwatosa police did not return emails seeking comment. They have not publicly released the names, but the men were charged Aug. 16 and have already been through intake court, according to court records. A law enforcement source said the secrecy was due to an ongoing investigation that could involve additional charges.
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.
The news that the man allegedly involved in the shooting incident is in custody comes despite the fact that Wisconsin state Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) put out a press release alleging that Mensah pulled the trigger himself and was the aggressor. He later admitted to Milwaukee television stations that he didn’t see that himself but got it from witnesses he didn’t name. Cell phone videos show demonstrators throwing toilet paper on Mensah’s girlfriend’s lawn and walking on it in a chaotic scene, and Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber previously told talk show host Mark Belling that Mensah was targeted in a violent planned attack, and it’s not true that he pulled the trigger.
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.”
The exact details of how the shooting incident went down are still not clear. Second-degree recklessly endangering safety charges, as opposed to first-degree, do not require prosecutors to show that the defendant had “utter disregard for human life.” It does require a showing that the defendant endangered the safety of another with criminally reckless conduct.
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 chaos occurred when Black Lives Matter protesters descended on the officer’s girlfriend’s home on Aug. 8 while Mensah and his girlfriend were there. Mensah, who fatally shot three people on duty since 2015 in other incidents, has been the subject of intense protests and calls for his termination. The first two shootings were ruled justified by the DA; the third is under investigation, and all three people were armed. It all culminated in the scene at his girlfriend’s home.
On Aug. 18, Wisconsin Right Now went to the address listed in court records for Bell, an apartment inside a large locked building in the 1700 block of W. Atkinson Ave. It was occupied by his mother, Ebony Ferrell. She confirmed what a law enforcement source had already told Wisconsin Right Now: That police are accusing her son of being the man involved in the firearm discharge incident at Mensah’s girlfriend’s house. Ferrell said she doesn’t know Lofton or prominent protest organizers who are in the news. The specific accusations against Lofton remain unclear, but his case is cross listed in court records with Bell’s.
Ferrell says Bell told her he was at the officer’s house with protesters and “went up to the door” of the officer’s home. The mother says her son told her that police have video from a doorbell camera on Mensah’s girlfriend’s home, where the incident occurred. But she says he claims he didn’t shoot or have a gun, although she acknowledged police think he was the man involved in the shooting incident.
Bell’s Mother Says He Worked at Amazon & Miller Park But His Facebook Page Contains Photos of Drugs & a Gangster Disciples Tribute
Ferrell said that her son has worked at Miller Park (his Facebook page says he was a dishwasher) and for Amazon. She described him as “deep in protests,” referring to Black Lives Matter. At one point in the interview, she called a man named “P,” describing him as a protest leader organizing attorneys for arrested men, but that man didn’t want to say anything.
Ferrell was aware of the charges and pulled up Bell’s CCAP entry during the interview. His Facebook page confirms she’s his mother.
Although the mother described her son as a father of three who graduated from an alternative high school but attended Alverno College for a time (that’s primarily a women’s college), his Facebook page contains photos of drugs, liquor, and shows him flashing wads of cash. One graphic he posted in 2014 shows imprisoned Gangster Disciples kingpin Larry Hoover, the infamous leader of the notorious Chicago-based street gang that also has a presence in Milwaukee.
“Happy bday Larry hoover,” Bell wrote in the caption. “Gd love. 7-4-14 all day were day.” The graphic read “GD lover,” a reference to the Gangster Disciples, a hierarchical street gang with branches in multiple states. On Facebook, Ronald D. Bell goes by the name “Ron Gott Bandz.” His mother confirmed that the Facebook page belongs to the same Ronald D. Bell who is in custody. She was also aware of Mensah’s name. In one post showing Bell flashing large quantities of money, Bell wrote, “Dope boy money…bro we sell straight loud the (n word) sell 4 dollars sacks.”
His photos on Facebook also show his children. He wrote a lot about his father’s death; his mother says the dad died of a drug overdose. She said her son has ADHD and that he went to an alternative high school and once wanted to be a medical assistant. She said he has no criminal history (which court records bear out), and claimed he “loved to work” and “never got in trouble.” She denied he had gang ties. She said the Black Lives Matter movement pulled him in “real deep,” but she herself commented that she doesn’t think it’s “doing anything” because people still lack jobs. Asked what she does for a living, the mother said she stays in her apartment as much as she can.
In February 2019, Bell wrote on Facebook, “Rip to my pops Ronald Blackie G Bell are bday next months who ready to f*ck the city up.” Ultrasounds, baby showers, and photos with his girlfriend also round out his page.
Another photo says “Get Stoner” and shows a man smoking. Other pictures show him with bottles of alcohol. A man wrote him on Feb. 29, “Yo party tonight??? Gotta bring heat.” One video, in December 3, 2019, was captioned “Smoke on this purp good afternoon who want it” and appeared to show drugs.
In October 2019, he shared a CBS 58 story that read, “Police searching for suspect who shot and killed woman near 16th and Lloyd,” and wrote “Ball in Paradise Chuck.” In June 2019, he wrote, “f*ck being a baby daddy. I’m trying to be a great husband and father.” In April that year, he wrote, “My bm be on my a*s i like i gone die real soon.”
In March 2019, he posted what appeared to be rap lyrics that included the line, “Drop one, one down and we gone kill ’em all Shoot you and your boy and whoever around. Try get away and we gone run ’em down.”
Bell posted pictures with large amounts of cash and wrote, “told u and the kids I got y’all all 2k19 y’all anit need for shit 💯 I always go get a bag and bring it home to see wat the kids need and u Kno where I get it from Ronald Blackie G Bell my pop always used tell me to take care home frist then the streets but y be in the streets when u can just stack some paper and go low with ur bae and kids and live life. 💯💯💯💯 💯💯💲💲💲💲💳💳💳.”
He posted a picture of a man in an inmate’s uniform and wrote, “Free my cuz I miss u bro.”
The law enforcement source told Wisconsin Right Now that the charges against both Bell and Lofton stem from the highly publicized incident at the home of Mensah’s police officer girlfriend.
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. It’s not clear whether that misdemeanor case is related, but the no contact order in the earlier case mentions two people who are not Mensah or his girlfriend.
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.