“It’s just a slap in my face and my family’s face.” That’s what Tracy Cole says about the decision of a Wisconsin sheriff’s office to hire Joseph Mensah, a former police officer who killed three people in the line of duty over a span of five years, the New York Times reports. Cole’s son, 17-year-old Alvin Cole, was among the people who Mensah shot and killed during his time with the Wauwatosa Police Department. Mensah started with the department in 2015 and resigned in November following protests over Alvin Cole’s death. Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson on Tuesday confirmed that Mensah has been sworn in as a deputy, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In a news release, Severson said Mensah underwent an “extensive, thorough, and exhaustive hiring process.” Severson acknowledged that “some have expressed concerns” about Mensah’s past use of deadly force.
But he said that a pre-employment investigation found that Mensah’s actions were “consistent with the federal and state laws, Wisconsin training, and uniformly applied police policy.” Mensah, who is Black, shot and killed Alvin Cole on Feb. 2, per NPR. The prosecutor’s office determined that he had acted in self-defense. Cole was reportedly running away through a mall parking lot; police said that he had a gun and had fired at them. In October, an independent investigator recommended that Mensah be fired, saying that the officer had made “inconsistent and misleading statements.” Cole did not shoot at officers, the investigator found. In 2016, per the Times, Mensah shot a man in his car who Mensah said reached for a gun. In 2015, Mensah shot a man who was wielding a sword. (Read more police shooting stories.)