Family seeks 2nd chance at charging officer in man's death

abcnews.go.com
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A Wisconsin judge will decide whether probable cause exists to file charges against a police officer who killed a man sitting in a parked car using a rarely invoked legal process
MADISON, Wis. -- A judge will decide this week whether there's enough evidence to charge a Wisconsin police officer who killed a man sitting in a parked car, after the man's family invoked a rarely used legal process in a bid to get around prosecutors who cleared the officer.

Joseph Mensah shot Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016 after he discovered him sleeping in his car after hours in a park in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb. Mensah said Anderson was reaching for a gun.

Anderson was the second of three people Mensah killed during a five-year stint with the Wauwatosa Police Department. Prosecutors cleared Mensah in each case. But an attorney for Anderson's family stumbled onto an obscure legal option to force a grand jury-like proceeding against Mensah in which a judge rather than a jury hears evidence.

A Milwaukee judge could implement the little-used procedure on Friday and find probable cause to warrant charges against Mensah. It's a case being watched by at least one other family frustrated by a prosecutor's decision not to charge a police officer who shot their loved one.

"We kind of thought that was it," Anderson's father, Jay Anderson Sr, said of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's decision not to charge Mensah. "They let him get away with murder is what they did." He called the hearing "a blessing to me and my family."

Mensah, who is Black, joined the Wauwatosa Police Department in 2015, the same year he shot and killed Antonio Gonzales, who identified as a Latino and American Indian. Prosecutors said Gonzales refused to drop a sword. The Anderson shooting came the following year.

In 2020, Mensah shot and killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole as Cole fled from police following a disturbance in a mall. Cole was Black. Mensah said he shot Cole because Cole pointed a gun at him. That shooting sparked months of protests, and Chisholm's decision not to charge Mensah set off several more nights of protests in Wauwatosa in October.

Mensah resigned from the…
TODD RICHMOND Associated Press
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