Mother, sisters of slain Black teen arrested at protest

Midwest

This undated family photo provided by Taleavia Cole shows her brother Alvin Cole, left. Wauwatosa, Wis., Police Officer Joseph Mensah shot and killed the 17-year-old outside a mall in February, 2020 after receiving a call of a man with a gun in the mall. In a report released Wednesday Oct. 7, 2020, an independent investigator recommended officials in the Milwaukee suburb fire Mensah, who has shot and killed three people in the last five years. (Taleavia Cole via AP)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The mother and sisters of a Black teen who was killed by a suburban Milwaukee police officer have been arrested by police who were cracking down on protesters out after a curfew following a decision not to charge the officer.

Alvin Cole’s mother, Tracy Cole, and his sisters, Taleavia and Tristiana Cole, were arrested at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday along with several others in a church parking lot in Wauwatosa, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, citing multiple witnesses.

Cole family attorney Kimberley Motley tweeted that Tracy Cole was arrested “for peacefully protesting” and “ended up in the hospital.” Motley said Tracy Cole was taken to Froedtert Hospital with an injury to her arm and forehead. One daughter, Tristiana Cole, was taken there as well.

Motley later tweeted that both were released from the hospital. Details on why Tristiana Cole was taken to the hospital weren’t immediately known.

A Facebook livestream that captured only audio of Tracy Cole was made by a third daughter, the newspaper reported. On a recording of it, Tracy Cole could be heard screaming in pain as she was being arrested, saying police injured her arm, hit her in the head and used a stun gun on her.

“I’m Alvin Cole’s mother,” Tracy Cole screamed repeatedly as officers pulled her out of her car.

“I can’t believe y’all did this to me. Y’all killed my son,” she screamed at the officers.

“I can’t breathe,” she said, multiple times. “I can’t breathe.”

Tracy Cole said her head was bleeding and she believed her arm was broken, according to the livestream.

Wauwatosa police tweeted Thursday night that “several” people were arrested, and said one woman requested medical attention and was taken to a hospital.

The city was under a 7 p.m. curfew during a second night of protests after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decided not to charge Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah, who is also Black, with the shooting death of Cole, 17, in February outside Mayfair Mall.

According to investigators’ reports, Cole had a gun and fired it. Chisholm said it appeared he shot himself in the arm. Officers said Cole refused commands to drop the weapon, prompting Mensah to fire.

Motley has said she plans to file a federal lawsuit against Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah.

The death of Alvin Cole was the third fatal shooting by Mensah in the last five years. Mensah shot and killed Antonio Gonzales in 2015 after police said Gonzales refused to drop a sword. A year later Mensah shot Jay Anderson Jr. In that case, Mensah found Anderson in a car parked in a park after hours.

Mensah said he saw a gun on the passenger seat and thought Anderson was reaching for it, so he shot him. Mensah wasn’t charged in either shooting.

Cole’s death sparked protests all summer in Wauwatosa, a city of 48,000 just west of Milwaukee. The demonstrations played out against a backdrop of protests nationwide over the death in May of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck for nearly eight minutes.

The Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission suspended Mensah in July and asked former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic to determine whether Mensah should be disciplined. Biskupic recommended that the commission terminate Mensah, calling the risk of a fourth shooting too great. Biskupic also faulted Mensah for speaking publicly about the shooting.

Hours after Biskupic released his report, Chisholm announced he wouldn’t charge Mensah. The prosecutor said Mensah would be able to successfully argue he acted in self-defense.

Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber tweeted after Chisholm made his announcement that his department “concurs” with the decision not to charge Mensah but “hears the message” from the public. He said an internal review of the shooting is ongoing and that Mensah remains suspended. The department has taken steps to improve policing, including more training, posting policies online and requiring body cameras by January, he said.

The police commission is scheduled to meet later this month but their position on Biskupic’s recommendation to fire Mensah isn’t clear.

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