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Milwaukee judge rules probable cause to charge killer cop Joseph Mensah in murder of Jay Anderson, Jr.

By staff |
July 28, 2021
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Jay, Sr. (center) and Linda Anderson make their way through a crowd of supporter
Jay, Sr. (center) and Linda Anderson make their way through a crowd of supporters following the judge's decision on July 28. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Milwaukee, WI - On the morning of July 28, nearly 50 community members gathered outside a limited capacity courtroom in downtown Milwaukee to await the verdict in a special John Doe hearing. The case being determined was an old one: the June 23, 2016 police murder of Jay Anderson, Jr.

After the initial investigation of the murder, Anderson’s killer, former Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah, was cleared of all wrongdoing by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. Anderson was Mensah’s second victim, and he would go on to murder 17-year-old Alvin Cole in February 2020.

This time, Milwaukee County Judge Glenn Yamahiro, at the conclusion of the initial phase of this John Doe process, has determined there is probable cause to charge Mensah with second-degree reckless homicide, reckless endangerment, and potentially other crimes. A tentative date for the beginning of the next phase in the process has been set for 60 days from now. A special prosecutor will be selected to oversee those proceedings.

As Judge Yamahiro’s decision sounded from the dozens of cell phones playing the livestream, the gathered crowd roared their approval, breaking into loud chants of “Jay Anderson!” and “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail - the whole damn system is guilty as hell!” The Anderson family emerged from the courtroom with fists raised and were received warmly by those in the hallway, many of whom have been working for a moment like this for at least the last year.

While this ruling is not Mensah being charged for his crimes, it does open the door in a case that some feared was closed. This decision not only paves the way for some kind of justice for Jay Anderson’s family, but also for the families of Mensah’s other victims, known to the community as “thEE thrEE”. Despite their own struggles, the family of Alvin Cole has remained in full support of the Anderson family’s fight for justice. Today marked a bittersweet moment for them, particularly considering that the same DA that cleared Mensah of his two initial murders cleared him of Alvin’s murder in October 2020.

Kimberly Motley, the attorney for the Andersons and the Coles, gave some comments after the judge’s announcement. “Had the Jay Anderson case been properly investigated, Alvin Cole would still be here today, and that is something that can never be made right. Ever.”

Yamahiro’s decision is also historic in that it is the first time Wisconsin’s John Doe statute has been used against a police officer. The proceedings led the judge to remark on the questionable practices of police investigating other police in situations of alleged misconduct or criminal activity.

"The court's review of the investigation in this case raises serious concerns regarding the adequacy of the current statutory framework for investigating officer-involved deaths,” Yamahiro said.

This victory - because that’s what the decisions represents to both the Anderson family and their many supporters - is unquestionably the result of the mass protests in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa in the summer and fall of 2020. Led by The People’s Revolution and the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression, the movement presses onward for justice and change.