Judge picks prosecutors to decide charges against officer

Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah and Alvin Cole
Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah, Alvin Cole

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A business attorney and a western Wisconsin prosecutor will decide whether to file charges against a former police officer who killed a man in a suburban Milwaukee park five years ago, a judge announced Wednesday.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Glenn Yamahiro said during a hearing he has selected attorney Scott Hansen and La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke to serve as special prosecutors in former Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah’s case. Mensah shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. after discovering him sleeping in a park after hours in June 2016. Mensah said Anderson was reaching for a gun.

Anderson was one of three people Mensah killed during a five-year stint at the Wauwatosa Police Department. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office chose not to charge him with criminal wrongdoing in any of the deaths.

But Anderson’s family’s attorney used a John Doe proceeding, a little-known Wisconsin legal maneuver similar to a grand jury inquiry, to persuade Yamahiro in July that there was probable cause to support charges against Mensah in Anderson’s death and to convince him to appoint special prosecutors to decide whether to file any counts.