Home / Commentary / View from around the state: Federal prosecutors should look at Jay Anderson shooting death

View from around the state: Federal prosecutors should look at Jay Anderson shooting death

— From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The family of Jay Anderson Jr., who was shot and killed last June by a Wauwatosa police officer, says that federal prosecutors have agreed to review the case now that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has decided that the officer’s actions were justified self-defense.

The federal government should take one more look at the case, especially given the circumstances and the anger surrounding the tragic incident, which sparked marches at Mayfair Mall and outside the police department.

Anderson was shot to death by Officer Joseph Mensah as Anderson sat in his car about 3 a.m. on June 23 in Madison Park. Mensah was patrolling in the vicinity when he spotted a parked black four-door car and noticed someone was inside. He approached and during his conversation with Anderson saw a handgun on the passenger seat. Mensah said he drew his weapon and ordered Anderson to raise his hands and not reach for the gun. Anderson complied but several times started to lower his right arm while leaning toward the passenger seat.

According to the investigative report on Mensah’s actions by the Milwaukee Police Department, which conducted the probe, “Mr. Anderson suddenly lunged toward the gun with his right hand. Fearing for his safety Mensah discharged his weapon into the vehicle as he disengaged. Immediately after discharging his weapon he remotely activated his squad camera.” Anderson was shot five times in the head and once in the shoulder.

Anderson’s family disputes the MPD interpretation of the video, saying Anderson was not “lunging” for the gun.

At a news conference Monday, Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber said, “This is a horrible tragedy and for anyone to lose any family member, no matter what the incident is, it’s horrible.”

There’s no doubt about that. Police officers put their lives in danger every day protecting the public; they deserve our thanks and our respect for the difficult jobs they do. But given how long it took for authorities to release the dashcam video and general mistrust of police right now, it would be helpful for federal prosecutors to follow up on this case.

The death of Jay Anderson Jr. was a tragedy; even worse would be to allow lingering doubts about how it happened to remain unaddressed.

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