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HomeJoseph MensahRep. David Bowen Seeking $1 Million From Wauwatosa for 'Emotional Distress'

Rep. David Bowen Seeking $1 Million From Wauwatosa for ‘Emotional Distress’


Bowen claims he has “suffered significant pain and suffering, loss of income, reputation and future earnings” oh.. and he was harassed.

State Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, who was present when former Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah and his police officer girlfriend were physically attacked and had a gun discharged near them, has provided “notice of state law claims” against the City of Wauwatosa and Wauwatosa Police Department, seeking $1 million in damages for “emotional distress.”

A notice of claim is a necessary precursor to a lawsuit.

Bowen is claiming that the city and police caused negligent and intentional “infliction of emotional distress, battery…and conspiracy to commit the claims provided.” He is also alleging federal claims and that he was harassed.

Bowen claims he has “suffered significant pain and suffering, loss of income, reputation and future earnings” due to a Wauwatosa police record that his attorney claims says he was arrested when he was not. In this case, Bowen was referred to the Milwaukee County DA for a criminal charge of unlawful assembly, but police then withdrew the charge for unclear reasons, according to a police report.

In addition, John Larry, who has served as the chairperson of the Wauwatosa ad hoc committee on policing and systemic inequities, is also planning to sue Wauwatosa for $1 million, according to a similar letter lawyer Kimberley Motley sent the city on his behalf. Larry was previously captured on body camera allegedly threatening to knock out and slap “the sh*t out of” a police lieutenant last August. For months, the police union raised concerns that he was leading a policing-related committee. Larry is making similar allegations against Wauwatosa as Bowen is, but they relate to a different date.

We couldn’t reach Wauwatosa police or the City due to the late hour, but police have previously explained that, when they refer people to the Milwaukee County DA’s office and request criminal charges or issue a non-traffic citation, the person is listed as “arrested” in the incident report, which the department called “administrative and procedural.”

What does the referral against Bowen stem from? A Wauwatosa police report alleges that, on Sept. 17, 2020, at 9 p.m. “an unlawful assembly was declared in the 2600 block of Lefeber Ave. after a group of people on foot and in vehicles were blocking and obstructing the lawful use of public thoroughfares. The group refused to disperse after three lawful orders were given by police. Two identified participants will have charges referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office for Unlawful Assembly – Khalil Coleman… and David F. Bowen.”

Bowen files claim

Fox 6 previously reported that Bowen was marching alongside Coleman, a leader of the People’s Revolution protest group who is now accused in Kentucky of trying to get a juvenile to rob a drug house. Wauwatosa police described the protest as “increasingly disorderly, agitated, and at times, violent.” Fox 6 reported that police later dropped the referral request for a charge against Bowen.

The police report explains the context of the referral – repeated issues with the Peoples Revolution group. It alleges that “this same group” went to Mensah’s girlfriend’s house the previous month and “a participant of this group (allegedly Ronald Bell) brought a shotgun with them. This shotgun was discharged toward Officer Mensah and struck Officer Mensah’s residence. This was the same evening that this group broke windows and toilet papered Officer Mensah’s residence.” Bowen is seen on video at the Mensah scene while Mensah and his girlfriend were physically assaulted by others. He is also seen on video shortly beforehand purchasing toilet paper, walking out of Target with Tiffany Henry, Milwaukee office director for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who was also at the Mensah scene. Bowen refused to give a statement to police about the incident.

The report says the Peoples Revolution group had also intentionally shined lights into officers’ eyes and one participant threw a full water bottle at police. The group was also illegally cruising, the report says. It does not allege that Bowen did those things.

It alleges that Coleman and Bowen “were identified as participants” at the Sept. 17 protest, who allegedly “disobeyed the lawful dispersal order.”

Bowen has denied ever being arrested. He was not physically detained despite the referral to the DA.

According to Fox 6, the police report “maintained the notation that Representative Bowen had been ‘arrested’” and he was assigned a booking number but was never detained or booked. This led his lawyer Kimberley Motley to label it a “fake” or “ghost” arrest.

The assertion of claims was sent on May 6 to the city by Motley, the attorney representing the families of the men shot and killed by Mensah on duty. Mensah was cleared in all of the shootings by the DA.

Rep. David Bowen Files Claim

Bowen files claim

Bowen’s behavior in Wauwatosa has been a point of contention for some time. Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber previously requested that the state Legislature discipline and possibly expel Bowen for his conduct related to the incident at Mensah’s girlfriend’s home,  telling the Assembly Speaker point-blank in a letter, “Mr. Bowen lied in his publicly issued statement.”

“I find the conduct of Mr. Bowen to be appalling and disgusting. He has made a mockery of our system of law and order in Wisconsin, and has brought disgrace to the office in which he serves,” Weber wrote. The Legislature did nothing.

However, Motley’s letter claims that Bowen “became an outspoken person for accountability in the criminal justice system.” On January 7, 2021, Wauwatosa police released “various records to the public in response to several open records requests,” including an “arrest and booking record” of David Bowen that purportedly occurred on Sept. 17, 2020.

Bowen files claim

“Mr. Bowen was never arrest (sic) nor booked on 9/17/20,” the letter says.

On Feb. 10, 2021, Bowen asked WPD to “remove any and all arrest records as it relates to Mr. Larry being arrested or booked by any WPD Officers up to and including 9/17/20 which did not happen.”

On Feb. 15, 2021, a Wauwatosa police captain sent a letter “indicating that this was not an actual ‘arrest record’ and that it will not be charged. There was obvious reputational damage to Mr. Bowen,” according to Motley.

The Motley letter claims that there is a “lack of comprehension on the part of WPD in creating false arrest records, releasing those false unredacted ‘arrest records’ to the public which contained biographical information of many persons including my client.”

Motley’s letter makes similar allegations on behalf of Larry but says that the alleged ghost arrest occurred on Aug. 14.

That’s the date that police previously alleged that Larry “approached officers and made attempts to incite the officers. (Larry) made threats to harm Lt. Farina while on scene. (Larry) stated he would ‘knock you the f*** out’ and “I’ll slap the sh*t out of you.’ (Larry) also antagonized officers, stating, ‘Grab me, let’s see who wins’ and ‘I wish any of them would try it with me.’” Larry has previously made what the union calls discriminatory references to the city of “White-watosa” and the “White-watosa Police,” which “we find to be extremely offensive and divisive.”

Both Bowen and Larry appear in this video.

Bowen allegedly lied to the public about the violent attack on Mensah, according to newly released statements from two members of the People’s Revolution. You can read about Bowen’s role at the Mensah house here.

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Jim Piwowarczyk
Jim Piwowarczyk is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Wisconsin Right Now.

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