State Rep. David Bowen: The Making of a ‘Lie’

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One of a Seven Chapter Series

According to reports, while referring to a bullhorn that was cracked over Mensah’s head, Bowen told protesters, “It was good that we got at him, and now Alvin Cole’s mom has a souvenir.”

Read Chapter One Here

Read Chapter Two Here

Read Chapter Three Here

Read Chapter Four Here

Read Chapter Five Here

State Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, lied to the public about the violent attack on then Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah, according to newly released statements from two members of the People’s Revolution.

The police reports, obtained by Wisconsin Right Now through an open records request, reveal for the first time that two of Bowen’s own associates essentially turned on him. One member of the protest/riot group called Bowen’s statement to the public “BS.” Another member laughed when part of Bowen’s press release was read to him and said, “that was a lie,” the police reports say.

[Coming up in part 2: Learn what state legislative leaders did when Chief Barry Weber told them Bowen lied.]

Witness interviews also allege for the first time that Bowen called the officer a “piece of sh*t” during the People’s Revolution attack and “encouraged” the accused shooter to not turn himself in to police. The People’s Revolution members admitted to police that the protest was not “peaceful.” One member gave conflicting accounts about whether Bowen was throwing toilet paper.

Ronald Bell, a People’s Revolution member who is accused of a felony for discharging a gun toward the officer, also admitted to police that he punched Mensah multiple times, injuring him, in the violent mob attack at Mensah’s girlfriend’s house in August, the reports, obtained by Wisconsin Right Now through open records laws, say. Both Mensah and his police officer girlfriend were left with physical injuries after being punched and scratched during the attack, which occurred as multiple People’s Revolution members swarmed his girlfriend’s Wauwatosa lawn. Bowen was present during the incident, the newly released police reports say. Mensah, who is no longer on the force due to a settlement agreement, was cleared in three fatal on-duty police shootings, sparking the People’s Revolution’s ire. We reached out to Bowen for comment, but we didn’t hear back.

The state rep’s press release, issued shortly after the attack, raised questions from the start because of the way it tried to pin all of the blame on the injured officer; Bowen never agreed to sit down with police despite being at a scene where authorities say a felony occurred.

Bowen’s press release came at a critical time, when police were investigating the incident, and the DA was contemplating charges he would eventually issue against Bell and others. However, the newly released police reports show that even Bowen’s own compatriots didn’t think he told the truth. Bowen hasn’t been arrested or charged in connection with the high-profile attack. The DA put the blame squarely on the side of the People’s Revolution when issuing charges, and Mensah and his girlfriend were not accused by authorities of any wrongdoing.

Niles McKee mugshot

Bowen, whose district encompasses a swath of the northwest side of Milwaukee and parts of Glendale and Shorewood, has served on legislative committees dealing with Corrections, Community Development, Children and Families and Education. His website says he’s been a member of the Milwaukee County Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Advisory Committee.

In his press release last August, Bowen tried to blame Mensah for the violence that erupted. “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,” he wrote.

Not according to the People’s Revolution members who talked to the police and admitted that Mensah was the victim.

Bell
Ronald Bell Facebook photo

Niles John McKee, who worked for the Milwaukee Public Schools Recreation Department in a job on hold due to COVID-19, was the People’s Revolution member who told police that part of Bowen’s statement was “B.S.,” and responded in the affirmative when asked if the statement contained “lies,” the police reports say.

According to McKee, who had a handgun at the scene, Bowen said things to the public that he couldn’t have seen, the reports say. Asked why Bowen would lie, McKee said, “I guess to make Mensah look like the bad guy.” At another point, he called it a “potential lie.”

Asked about Bowen’s statement to the public, McKee responded, “That’s not true,” according to the police reports. Asked why Bowen would intentionally lie, despite swearing an oath to the Constitution of the U.S. and the State of Wisconsin, McKee stated, “That’s ass backwards.” He also offered, “to protect his people, I don’t know.”

Bell told police that Bowen, despite being at the scene and in the Target parking lot when People’s Revolution members were buying toilet paper before the attack, “never tried stopping the protesters.”

joseph mensah girlfriend
Mensah’s girlfriend’s injuries

At one point, when a detective read him part of Bowen’s statement blaming Mensah for the violence, Bell laughed and said, “that was a lie,” the reports say.

“Bowen encouraged him not to turn himself in. Bowen and (Tiffany) Henry told Bell they had a lawyer for him and they would pay his cash bail,” the police reports say Bell told a detective. Tiffany Henry has worked as a top staffer for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, running her Milwaukee office.


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The reports also claim that, according to Bell, the People’s Revolution’s leader, Khalil Coleman, used a blow horn to tell everyone to “delete the videos” of the incident. Bowen and Henry were still with the group at this time, he said. Bowen and Henry knew Bell was the one who shot the weapon because they were asking around, Bell told police. Bell stated that Bowen and Henry did not tell him to turn himself in. Bell stated he told Bowen he just wanted to turn himself in. Bowen told Bell to see what the “aftermath” is. Bell stated Bowen knew Bell was the individual with the shotgun and that Bell wanted to turn himself in, the reports allege. Neither Henry nor Coleman has been arrested or charged in connection with the attack.

Police reports describe the chaos. Vehicles were “driving at a high rate of speed through the neighborhood and all over the roads.” The “’protesters’ were yelling and screaming from the vehicles and beeping their horns continuously causing a loud disturbance.” They cursed things like “Fck 12” and “Fck the police.

An officer said that a group of 7-10 males surrounded the U-haul truck parked near Mensah’s home, climbing on the hood and opening the read door. He observed other individuals shouting, throwing toilet paper and other objects into the trees and at his house. The officer heard fireworks, car horns, and the chant, “Murderer, murderer.” A neighbor said he heard a gunshot and the group chanting phrases such as “murderer” and “fck ‘em, fck ‘em all.”

Another neighbor told police he saw some of the incident and at “no time did Mensah get into a physical confrontation with any of the protesters.” Another neighbor heard someone say “we will shoot the dog.” Another neighbor saw Mensah being attacked by six to eight protesters who were hitting him repeatedly.

Corey Kirkwood, a protester, said that Bowen approached another protester at the Target store where people were buying toilet paper and asked “where the group was going with the toilet paper.” Kirkwood asked Bowen a short time later if he knew where they were headed. Bowen replied something similar to, “I can’t tell you but you’re going to like where we’re going.”


Rep. Bowen Called it a Prank

According to an interview with WTMJ4, conducted after Mayor Dennis McBride canceled a meeting with Bowen on advice from the City Attorney, Rep. Bowen said:

“The idea was to make sure the Mayor is hearing directly, more than one side of the narrative being shared by Officer Joseph Mensah, who has no credibility and the Wauwatosa Police Department has cosigned his lies he’s pushing.” 

He also told the television station:

“I definitely had my presumptions about if this could be done fairly but this is clearly showing, especially with pressure from right-wing Republican groups and figureheads, to create this into a bigger issue. From the time protesters got to his home, he (Mensah) was irate. He was out of control. He was provoking people to engage in violence. That doesn’t sound like the character of someone who is an upstanding citizen, let alone to display the conduct as an officer to uphold the law.”

Bowen continued: “I’d say, none of the actions the protesters displayed that day deserve the vitriol and aggressive behavior Joseph Mensah displayed that day,”

He added: “Honestly, it’s childish. Kids will do pranks and TP someone’s house or tree and it’s cleaned up and everyone moves on. Joseph Mensah made the decision to come outside, provoke and antagonize protesters, spray with pepper spray, use his dog and threaten to sic his dog onto protesters. He displayed behavior that I believe is beneath what was called for a member who is supposed to represent the police department.”

But his own associates contradicted his narrative.


Who Provoked the Violence?

Bowen’s statement is a clear attempt to paint the police officer as the provocateur. However, Bell and McKee told police that is false; Mensah was not responsible for the violence that occurred.

In fact, McKee told police that Bowen was wrong when he said no one tried to kill Mensah or his girlfriend. Bell said Mensah was willing to talk to the group and the protesters escalated this. McKee, whose lawyer is challenging his competency in court, was charged with a felony:

Harboring/Aiding a Felon (E/F/G/H/I or unclassified felony/not life)Felony I
Modifier:939.05PTAC, as a Party to a Crime

Bell said Mensah was trying to get away from the crowd and from Bell. Mensah was trying to get away from them because they had firearms and were attacking Mensah, the reports say. Bell was charged with felonies – 2nd-degree recklessly endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon, battery or threat to a law enforcement officer, party to a crime.


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Officer Joseph Mensah
Joseph Mensah. Credit: GoFundme

Bell said, “I apologize. I’m sorry for bringing the firearm to his house. I’m sorry for putting my hands on him.”

“Bell stated it would be more appropriate for Mensah to feel threatened by the crowd than for Bowen to be threatened by Mensah,” the reports say.

McKee told police that he felt Mensah would have been justified if he shot Bell, which he didn’t do, due to Bell’s actions. He said Mensah did “nothing” to the people at his house. He said at least six People’s Revolution members were throwing punches at Mensah.

The detective read McKee parts of Bowen’s statement, including a line that read, “None of them displayed any behavior to welcome provoking threats of violence by Joseph Mensah. When investigators read Bell that part of Bowen’s statement, Bell laughed. “Bell said that was a lie,” the police reports say. Bell stated the group did not do that; he described Mensah and his girlfriend as the victims.

Here’s that line in Bowen’s press release:

Here’s that passage in the police reports:


Shotgun Blast to Back Door

Police reports clearly indicate the shotgun discharged and struck the back door as Mensah and his girlfriend fled into the house and that Bell was holding the shotgun when it fired. Bowen’s statement however says, “No protester shot at the back door. That’s the biggest lie.”

Bell stated Bowen and Tiffany Henry called Bell and asked if Bell had “any felonies on his name.” They told Bell they were trying to figure out who shot the shotgun at Mensah’s back door.

Bell told police he informed Bowen that “Bell and Mensah were fighting at the back door and the shotgun went off.” Bowen asked Bell if he was sure of that. Bell told him he was sure and asked Bowen what the outcome would be from the incident. Bowen told Bell he did not know and that Bowen had to see what the deal was and that Bowen would get back to Bell.

After the shooting, Bowen and Bell had a private discussion, and Bowen was telling Bell to chill out and calm down, according to McKee’s statement to police. This was at a point when everyone knew that Bell had the shotgun when it went off.

Here’s the pertinent passage from Bowen’s statement:

Here’s Bell’s statements to police in the reports:

McKee later said:


The Bullhorn

In a discussion later at a park, Bowen told the group something to the effect of, “It was good that we got at him and now Alvin Cole’s mom has a souvenir,” referring to a bullhorn that was cracked over Mensah’s head during the mob attack, according to McKee. Cole was the armed teenager who Mensah shot and killed outside Mayfair Mall, in a shooting ruled justified self defense by the district attorney (Cole discharged a gun in the area of officers).

Bell told police the bullhorn went to Taleavia Cole, Cole’s sister. The reports allege that Bell said Taleavia hit Mensah and Mensah’s girlfriend. (She also was not charged or arrested in connection with the attack.)

The police reports say:


Was Bowen Throwing Toilet Paper?

Bell initially told investigators that Bowen threw toilet paper at the scene, but later stated in an interview that Bowen didn’t throw toilet paper “at the house.” Bowen was “not fighting Mensah but was throwing toilet paper,” Bell told a Wauwatosa detective, the reports say.

Bell stated that Bowen was at Target when the toilet paper was purchased but was in the parking lot. Bell did not know what was communicated to Bowen at Target about the plans. Bowen was in Tiffany Henry’s car. He thought maybe her license plate was covered but wasn’t sure.

The police reports say:


‘Peaceful’ Protests?

Bell admitted that a Peoples Revolution member slashed tires at Mensah’s home and said it was “not an example of peaceful protesting.”

“Bell stated none of the protests they have been doing lately have been peaceful. He stated the group marches around the city and researches who was killed.”

McKee told police that he owned and got rid of the shotgun used by Bell in the incident, police reports say. They say he also acknowledged that the behavior of the People’s Revolution was not peaceful.

McKee said Bowen didn’t throw any punches. Bowen was situated in the street and calling out to Mensah, “you’re wrong” and “now you’re not going to face the people” and called him a “piece of sh*t,” the police reports allege. McKee acknowledged that the things Bowen was saying were not peaceful protesting.

Bowen’s statement said:

From the police reports:


A text conversation on 8/11/20 at 6:45PM on the phone of Niles J. McKee with “Protesting Kim Form”:


Rep. Bowen Never Met with Investigators

A Wauwatosa Investigator asked Bowen on several occasions to meet with them to give a witness statement. The investigator received an email from Bowen’s attorney, Kimberley Motley. The email called the investigation tainted and biased. Motley stated she would cooperate with the Milwaukee County Districts Attorney’s Office. Bowen never gave a statement to police.

We reached out to Rep. Bowen for comment regarding the statments made by Bell and McKee, he did not respond.

Disclosure: WRN contributor Jessica McBride is the niece of Dennis McBride. Jim Piwowarcyzk, the owner of WRN, is the author of this story.

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