The parents of Alvin Cole, a teen killed by former Wisconsin police officer Joseph Mensah, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging Mensah used excessive force against Cole, according to The Associated Press. They also claim the Wauwatosa Police Department “embraces and promotes” racism.
Alvin’s parents, Tracey and Albert Cole, are seeking damages from Mensah, the city’s former police chief Barry Weber and its insurance company in connection to Alvin’s death. Mensah shot and killed Cole during a foot chase outside Mayfair Mall. Mensah claimed Cole fired shots at him, however, the suit claims Cole accidentally shot himself in the arm causing him to fall and drop his gun, reported Fox 6 Now.
Following that moment, the suit claims Mensah shot Cole five times without attempting to give him any commands.
Read more on the suit from AP News:
The lawsuit also asserts that race was a motivating factor in Mensah’s decision to open fire, insisting that Mensah treated Alvin Cole worse than he would have treated a white person in the same situation.
The lawsuit also argues the Wauwatosa Police Department “embraces and promotes” racism, arguing that Black people were barred from living in certain parts of the city into the 1980s and that several members of the department attended so-called MLK parties in blackface in the 1980s and 1990s but were never disciplined. The lawsuit goes on to allege that 83% of the department’s arrests in 2018 were of Black people even though Black people only made up 5.3% of the city’s population that year.
This is only the latest lawsuit both the department and Mensah have seen. Mensah shot and killed Antonio Gonzales in 2015 after Gonzales refused to drop a sword, per local reports. He also shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. during a traffic stop in 2016 after Anderson allegedly reached for a gun. Anderson’s family recently filed a suit on similar allegations as the Coles, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.
Their suit alleged the social history of Wauwatosa created a racist environment that led to Anderson’s death and that Mensah used excessive force, violating his constitutional rights.
“Joseph Mensah is sort of, statistically, an anomaly. He is one of the deadliest officers in the United States, we believe,” said Kimberley Motley, the human rights attorney representing the three victims and their families via Fox 6 Now.