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Prosecutors: 2016 police officer will not be charged with fatal shooting of a man found asleep in the car

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Prosecutors said Wednesday that a Wisconsin police officer who killed three people in the line of duty over five years will not be charged with the 2016 fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man he found sleeping inside a park car.

Special prosecutors, Scott Hansen, a Milwaukee attorney, and La Crosse County attorney Tim Groenke, announced that their review of the incident found no legal basis for the indictment of former Wawatosa police officer Joseph Mensah of shooting Jay Anderson Jr.

Mensah, who is now an investigator in the Waukesha, Wisconsin, county police office, told investigators that after approaching Anderson’s parked car around 3 a.m. on June 23, 2016, he noticed a gun lying on the front seat, according to a briefing from the Milwaukee Police Department, which investigated shooting. He claimed that Anderson initially complied with his orders to raise his hands, but then rushed in for the gun, causing him to use lethal force.

Photo: This undated photo provided by the Wawatosa Police Department in Wawatosa, Wisconsin, shows Wawatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah.

This undated photo provided by the Wawatosa Police Department in Wawatosa, Wisconsin, shows Wawatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah. In a report released Wednesday, October 7, 2020, an independent investigator recommended those responsible for the Milwaukee suburb of Mansah fire, which has shot and killed three people in the past five years.

Gary Monreal / Monreal Photography LLC / Wauwatosa Police Department via AP

Dash cam video from Mensah’s squad car showed Anderson shooting. An autopsy concluded that Anderson had been hit with five bullets to the head and once to the shoulder.

On Wednesday, Hansen said it was difficult to prove in a criminal case beyond reasonable doubt to a jury that Mensah had not acted in self-defense when he shot Anderson.

“We think the evidence will not allow that,” Hansen said.

The special prosecutors’ decision appears to be in line with a decision made in 2016 by Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm not to indict Mensah.

Chisholm had previously exonerated Mansah in the 2020 fatal shooting of a 17-year-old, allegedly refusing orders to drop a stolen pistol, and the 2015 fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man, allegedly refusing orders to drop a sword.

Milwaukee County Judge Glenn Yamahiro appointed special prosecutors to review the case last year after hearing evidence at the so-called John Doe hearing requested by the Anderson family’s attorney. Yamahiro found probable cause to bring murder charges against Mensah, and concluded that the evidence showed that the officer had not acted in self-defense and had been negligent in handling a dangerous weapon when he shot Anderson.

But the judge refused to press charges and chose to have the case reviewed by the special prosecutors he appointed.

Photo: Linda Anderson, mother of Jay Anderson, holds a sign during the Get Out The Vote rally in Chicago, October 29, 2020. Jay Anderson was shot dead by police in 2016 in Wawatosa, Wis.

Jay Anderson’s mother, Linda Anderson, holds a placard during the Get Out The Vote rally in Chicago, October 29, 2020. Jay Anderson was shot dead by police in 2016 in Wawatosa, Wis.

Nam Y. Huh / AP, FILE

Yamahiro rejected a request made Wednesday by Kimberly Motley, the Anderson family’s attorney, to appoint new special prosecutors to review the case again.

But Yamahiro said, “I still think this whole tragedy could have been avoided.”

After Wednesday’s hearing, Anderson’s mother, Linda Anderson, vowed to continue the fight for justice for her son.

“I’m not going to stop until this guy is behind bars, where he should be,” said Linda Anderson.

There was no immediate comment from Mensah.

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