Tosa Officer’s Go Fund Me shows large donations from local police organizations

    A screen shot of Joseph Mensah's Go Fund Me page. (Photo by Isiah Holmes)
    A screen shot of Joseph Mensah's Go Fund Me page. (Photo by Isiah Holmes)

    A Go Fund Me page has been established by the brother of a Wauwatosa police officer at the center of recent protests by citizens demanding he be fired after shooting three young African American residents in five years. Established nearly a week ago, the page has raised more than $44,000 toward a goal of $50,000. The page, however, has increased its set goal at least twice as donations continue to stream in.

    Christopher Mensah, the older brother of Officer Joseph Mensah, asserts his brother has had to “overcome the dissemination of false information about his personal life, slander, and defamation from multiple sources. Joseph has been treated unfairly and unjustly by mob mentality and anti-police rhetoric.”

    Although the page states that the family is confident in the legal counsel provided by the Wauwatosa Peace Officers Association and that Mensah is currently suspended with pay, his brother Christopher writes that the money is for something else: “To explore and take legal action against those that have unjustly accused him of wrongdoing, interfered with his ability to receive due process, and wrongly besmirched his character and integrity.”

    The page has attracted more than 658 donations, ranging from as little as $9 to two anonymous $1,000 donations. Several Wauwatosa officers have donated to the Go Fund Me, including at least two detectives, the department’s property clerk and a lieutenant who retired in 2019. The lieutenant and one of the donating detectives were also on the scene after Mensah’s second fatal shooting in 2016. Until the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) arrived to assume control over the investigation, the former lieutenant was the “investigative commander,” according to MPD documents regarding the 2016 shooting death of 25-year-old Jay Anderson Jr.

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    Mensah was also involved in the shootings of 28-year-old Antonio Gonzalez, 11 months prior to shooting Anderson, and 17-year-old Alvin Cole four years later in February 2020. The Cole case has gained national attention, as the teenager represented Mensah’s third shooting since arriving at Tosa PD in 2015.

    Significant donations have also been made by the New Berlin Professional Police Association, Brookfield Professional Police Association, the Wauwatosa Professional Firefighters Local 1923, and other organizations. Brookfield PD recently assisted Wauwatosa PD and several other departments in confronting protesters on July 7 in the suburb. The protesters were conducting a non-violent shutdown of a restaurant as part of their push to get justice for Cole and his family.

    The Greenfield Police Supervisors Association and the Greenfield Police Association have donated a total of $750 to Mensah’s Go Fund Me. Greenfield PD is part of a network of departments, including Wauwatosa PD and MPD, which make up the Milwaukee Area Investigative Team. Once called the Milwaukee County Suburban Investigative Team, the network is a rotating unit of officers, detectives and supervisors who investigate police shootings in the Milwaukee area. According to state law, an outside department must investigate police shootings.

    Since 2017, the state Department of Justice and Department of Criminal Investigations have not conducted independent investigations of local police departments. Rather, a rotating cast of local departments handle one another’s shootings.

    In 2018, the Greenfield Police Department investigated a Wauwatosa PD shooting. The Greenfield Police Department has not returned Wisconsin Examiner’s requests for comment regarding a possible conflict of interest involving donations by officers and their supervisors in the department donating to an officer involved in a shooting after their department participated in investigations of police shootings involving that same department in the past.

    Isiah Holmes
    Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, and other outlets.