Civil rights lawsuit filed against Joseph Mensah, city of Wauwatosa, former PD chief

NOW: Civil rights lawsuit filed against Joseph Mensah, city of Wauwatosa, former PD chief

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A new legal challenge targets the city of Wauwatosa and two former employees of the police department.

The family of Jay Anderson Jr., one of the three men fatally shot by former Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah, filed a federal civil rights case Wednesday, Oct. 13 against Mensah, the city and former Wauwatosa police chief Barry Weber. Weber retired earlier this year.

Mensah, who is now a deputy with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Office, resigned from the Wauwatosa Police Department last year. He shot and killed three people while on duty within a five-year period.

The 32-page federal lawsuit alleges the Wauwatosa Police Department has a history of racist officers and that culture led to Anderson's death five years ago.

A spokesperson for the Wauwatosa Police Department confirmed to CBS 58 the department is aware of the lawsuit but said it cannot comment on pending litigation.

In June 2016, Mensah found Jay Anderson sleeping in a park after hours. Kimberley Motley, who represents the families of all three men killed by Mensah, argued Anderson followed Mensah's directions, but Mensah fatally shot him. 

The lawsuit alleges Mensah deliberately killed Anderson and violated his constitutional rights when he fatally shot him.

"If we don't hold law enforcement officers like Joseph Mensah accountable, then who can be held accountable?" Motley asked in an interview Wednesday with CBS 58.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office did not file charges against Mensah in any of the three shootings.

However, in July, a judge decided there was probable cause to charge Mensah in the Anderson shooting, ruling that a special prosecutor must review the case. That prosecutor is set to be appointed on Oct. 27.

The lawsuit also argues the Wauwatosa Police Department "embraces and promotes racism."

"There is a long and sordid racial troubling past with the Wauwatosa Police Department that has largely gone on unaddressed," Motley said.

John Milotzky, president of the Wauwatosa Peace Officers Association, told CBS 58 he could not comment on pending litigation.

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride, City Attorney Alan Kesner and Mensah's attorney did not respond to CBS 58's requests for comment Wednesday. CBS 58's attempts to reach Weber were unsuccessful.

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