(Reuters) - A Black police officer in Wisconsin will not face charges for the killing of an armed Black teenager eight months ago outside of a mall in a suburb of Milwaukee, his third deadly encounter with a suspect in five years.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced on Wednesday that he found police officer Joseph Mensah was justified when he shot Alvin Cole after the 17-year-old fired a stolen handgun outside Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa on Feb. 2.
“In this case, there is sufficient evidence that officer Mensah had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary and that belief was objectively reasonable,” Chisholm said.
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, Minnesota police in May.
In preparation of possible civil unrest, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to respond to Wauwatosa. There have been demonstrations in the city to the west of Milwaukee since the shooting of Cole.
“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 Feb. 2 at about 5:30 p.m., 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.
Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; editing by Grant McCool
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