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Officer Who Quit Wisconsin Police Job Under Pressure Joins Nearby Sheriff's Dept.

Joseph Mensah, who quit his job as a police officer in Wauwatosa, Wis., after shooting and killing three people in the line of duty over a five-year period, has a new job as a sheriff's deputy. Sheriff Eric Severson of neighboring Waukesha County says multiple authorities concluded Mensah's controversial use of force was both legal and in line with his training.

In announcing the hire, Severson acknowledged that "some have expressed concerns about Mr. Mensah's past uses of force." But he said Mensah had gone through "an extensive, thorough and exhaustive hiring process."

The sheriff added that Mensah's work with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Office will start with a supervised field training program.

Mensah, who is Black, was the subject of intense protests in Wauwatosa last October, after the Milwaukee County district attorney announced no charges would be filed against him in the shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole on Feb. 2. The prosecutor's office concluded Mensah had acted in self-defense.

Despite that finding, Mensah resigned in November after a months-long suspension from the Wauwatosa Police Department in suburban Milwaukee.

Cole was the third person to have been shot and killed by Mensah since 2015, according to multiple reports.

"Mensah's two earlier shootings had also been found to be in self-defense, and the officer was not disciplined," as NPR's Brakkton Booker reported.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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