February 02, 2020
Cause of death: Shooting
Last updated: over 3 years ago
On the evening of February 2, 2020, Wauwatosa Police Department (WPD) shot and killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole. Cole was with a group of friends at a local mall when officers responded to reports of a disturbance involving 10 individuals inside the mall, including at least one carrying a gun. When officers approached them, some of the individuals ran away, and officers claimed that one of them, Cole, matched the description of the individual with the gun.
The following week, WPD Chief Barry Weber held a press conference where he introduced a picture of a firearm allegedly found at the scene and video from the dashboard cameras in the two squad cars at the scene. Chief Weber also claimed that officers found an extended magazine and ammunition in Cole's belongings.
The video contains audio of someone saying "drop the gun" several times and reveals 5 gunshots, the first of which is supposedly Cole firing the weapon in the photo. Chief Weber also stated that the crime lab discovered a spent shell casing inside the chamber of the firearm.
It should be noted that the video makes it difficult to differentiate what is happening outside versus inside the vehicle. WPD officers don't wear body cams, so the video depicts what is happening at least 30 feet from the officers and Cole. Local investigators also cried foul on the firearm, noting that the photo appears to depict a weapon with the safety on, with no magazine or clip. They also noted that the firearm is a semi-automatic, which will eject the casing to prepare for the next firing - and so the crime lab wouldn't be able to find a shell casing in the chamber. Additionally, witnesses at the scene told the Cole family that his son was shot in the back.
On July 15, 2020, Officer Joeph Mensah was suspended by the city's Police and Fire Commission (PFC) on Wednesday, after killing three people in five years.
On October 12, 2020, the police chief in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, said he had no reason to fire the officer who fatally shot a Black teenager, the third person the officer fatally shot in the past five years.
On February 3, 2020, the Cole family held a vigil in honor of Alvin.