Keith Griffith, Daily Mail, October 8, 2020
Black Lives Matter supporters have attacked homes in a Milwaukee suburb, smashing windows on a quiet residential street after a black cop was cleared in the shooting death of an armed black teenager.
The violence followed a district attorney’s decision on Wednesday that police officer Joseph Mensah was justified when he shot Alvin Cole on February 2, after the 17-year-old fired a stolen handgun outside Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa.
After nightfall on Wednesday, demonstrators smashed out storefront windows in Wauwatosa before marching down a residential street and hurling large rocks through the windows of homes, according police.
The mayhem was caught on camera by by Julio Rosas, a reporter for the conservative publication Townhall, who said that some of the people in the crowd attempted to stop others from attacking the homes. Police confirmed using tear gas to disperse some of the protesters.
Cole was the third person Mensah has fatally shot since becoming an officer, and his death has sparked periodic protests in Wauwatosa and the Milwaukee area.
Gov. Tony Evers announced earlier Wednesday that he had activated National Guard members as a precaution, though he didn’t say how many or how they were being used. Guard spokesman Maj. Joe Trovato later said ‘hundreds’ of troops were at the ready.
The city of Wauwatosa issued a nightly 7 p.m. curfew after Chisholm’s decision was announced, to run until next Monday. Many people ignored the curfew, marching peacefully in the city.
Wauwatosa Police declared an unlawful assembly shortly before 9pm, and established a protective perimeter around Wauwatosa City Hall with the aid of the National Guard.
Late Wednesday evening and well past the curfew, a group of a few hundred protesters confronted a police line.
Police said some in the group were throwing rocks at law enforcement and buildings and that they used tear gas to disperse the protesters. Footage posted on social media showed the gas and the crowd retreating.
WISN-TV reported windows broken at several businesses on the city’s north side, including a pharmacy, coffee shop, wall coverings store, cleaners and fitness center.
Scores of people surrounded the Milwaukee County Public Safety Building as Cole’s attorney and family members met with Chisholm, some chanting, ‘Say his name! Alvin Cole!’ and ‘Justice! When do we want it? Now!’
‘Individuals in the group are throwing large rocks at law enforcement and buildings in the area of Swan Bl / W North Av,’ the police department said in a statement.
‘Residents in this area are advised to shelter in their homes, lock their doors, and move away from windows.’
Some rioters in Wauwatosa, WI are now smashing windows of homes. People in the crowd tried to stop them from targeting homes. pic.twitter.com/vIiDQDPzTr
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) October 8, 2020
‘The crowd was ordered to disperse due to being an unlawful assembly, and has refused. Law enforcement has deployed gas to safely disperse the group,’ the department said.
In video shot by Rosas, one outraged resident is heard telling the mob that they are targeting people who may support their cause.
‘Do you have any idea how many Democrats, how many MPS teachers, union members, other people that support you live on this street?’ shouts the man.
‘Show some respect!’ the man demanded, seconds after a motorcycle tore across his lawn. ‘Police your protest.’
The crowd then began to loot a gas station convenience store, grabbing armfuls of snacks, soft drinks, and beer.
‘We need them blunts back there,’ one person is heard shouting in Rosas’ footage, referring to cheap cigars which are used to smoke marijuana.
Video from the scene shows cars driving on sidewalks and motorcycles tearing across laws as the mob shines bright lights into the windows of homes.
It came hours after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced that he found Mensah was justified when he shot Cole on February 2.
Chisholm, in a 14-page letter laying out his rationale, said evidence showed Cole fled from police carrying a stolen 9 mm handgun.
He cited squad car audio evidence, along with testimony from Mensah and two fellow officers, that he said showed Cole had fired a shot while fleeing and refused commands to drop the gun.
‘He did not surrender the weapon and was fired upon by Officer Mensah causing his death,’ Chisholm wrote. He concluded: ‘(T)here is sufficient evidence that Officer Mensah had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary and that belief was objectively reasonable.’
Mensah was involved in two other deadly shootings over the last five years. Mensah remains on administrative suspension pending proceedings with the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission.
The ruling comes after a summer of protests, some violent, across the United States over racial injustice, sparked by the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police in May.
‘I am not surprised by this miscarriage of justice,’ said State Representative David Bowen in a statement after learning of the ruling. ‘It is past time for systemic transformation.’
On February 2 at about 5.30pm, Cole entered the Mayfair Mall with a semi-automatic pistol in a bag over his shoulder. Cole then got into an argument with another man and displayed his weapon.
Mall security told Cole to leave the mall and contacted the police. When police confronted Cole outside the shopping center, he ran.
During the pursuit, Cole shot himself in the arm and fell before he pointed his gun at officers. Mensah opened fire, killing Cole, district attorney Chisholm wrote in his report.
Chisholm’s report noted that Cole’s gun had a spent round in the chamber — the one that investigators believe he fired while running, possibly striking himself in the arm — and that the magazine was recovered in his sling bag, meaning the gun had no more bullets in it when he was shot. Mensah and two other officers at the scene said Cole pointed the gun at them.
Cole’s sister, Taleavia Cole, insisted the shooting wasn’t justified because her brother could not have fired at Mensah. She said he should not be allowed to continue working as an officer.
‘The fight continues. It doesn’t end here,’ said his sister, Taleavia Cole. ‘… It’s time for DA Chisholm to retire or step down.
Chisholm also said that he didn’t believe the state had enough evidence to disprove that Mensah was defending himself or others, so he couldn’t meet the burden required to bring charges. Kimberley Motley, a family attorney for the Coles, seized on Chisholm’s wording.
‘Chisholm did not say that the shooting was justified,’ Motley said. ‘And that’s really important.’
Motley, who also represents the families of the two other people killed by Mensah, said if he had been fired earlier then Cole would still be alive.