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Was Rep. David Bowen party to a crime?

Empower Wisconsin | Aug. 12, 2020

MADISON — Wauwatosa’s police union president says state Rep. David Bowen’s accounts of Saturday’s “peaceful protest’ targeting embattled Officer Joseph Mensah are fabricated at best.

Further,  Detective John Milotzky, president of the Wauwatosa Peace Officers Association, tells Empower Wisconsin that if the Milwaukee Democrat was at the Black Lives Matter rally that turned into a riot he should have remained at the scene to speak with investigators.

Bowen released a statement Monday insisting that he was at the protest at Mensah’s girlfriend’s home, a “social justice” rally that appears to have devolved into mob justice.

Wauwatosa Police have said Black Lives Matter protesters “targeted” Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah, vandalized his girlfriend’s home and fired a shotgun at the back door.

“Officer Mensah attempted to establish a dialogue with the group but was ultimately physically assaulted outside his home,” the report states, adding that the group was estimated between 60 and 70 people. It did not state that Bowen was there.

Mensah is on paid administrative leave while investigators look into the officer’s fatal shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole. The black teen allegedly fired a handgun at officers at Mayfair Mall during the Feb. 2 shooting.

Mensah has fatally shot three men in five years; the two previous officer-involved shooting cases have been ruled justified, finding that Mensah acted in self-defense.

Black Lives Matter protesters have made Mensah the face of police brutality and social injustice in suburban Milwaukee, demanding the black police officer be fired and charged with homicide. They’ve received the backing of most on Wauwatosa’s woke city council.

In the press release, Bowen pats himself on the back for being at the rally and insists that the protesters were peaceful even as they confronted an “out-of-control” off-duty cop.

“What I observed on Saturday outside Officer Mensah’s home was an out-of-control, yelling & aggressive man that came out of his house with the goal to provoke peaceful protestors and incite violence,” Bowen said.

“The victim narrative put forth by Mensah and now the Wauwatosa Police Department is totally inaccurate, irresponsible and false,” the Democrat continued.  “In my time at the protest in front of Mensah’s home, I personally felt threatened by his actions: spraying pepper spray into the crowd, yelling & inviting protestors to fight him, taking his big dog out to potentially attack people.”

Mensah, and the officers that have investigated the disorderly and violent scene, have a much different account.

“The facts of what occurred do not align at all with David Bowen’s statements. He is making claims that are untruthful,”  Milotzky said, adding that the lawmaker has “basically regurgitated what other protesters have told him.”

Mensah detailed Saturday’s events on his Facebook page. His description is a harrowing account of mob justice.

“Last night, protesters came to my girlfriend’s house while I was there, and tried to kill me,” he wrote. The officer went on to write:

“I was unarmed and tried to defend my property and the property of my girlfriend. We were both assaulted, punched, and ultimately shot at several times. A shotgun round missed me by inches. Not once did I ever swing back or reciprocate any (of) the hate that was being directed at me. I am all for peaceful protests … even against me, but this was anything but peaceful. They threw toilet paper in her trees, broke her windows, and again, shot at both of us as they were trying to kill me. There are children that live there … The irony in all of this is that they chanted Black Lives Matter the entire time, but had zero regard for any of the black children that live there or me, a black man.

Bowen disputes  Mensah’s account, insisting that the officer “chose to engage with a protester, and pulled the trigger on that individual’s firearm.”

“From my own experiences Saturday night and the statements made in the time since, I have concluded that Joseph Mensah’s credibility must be questioned. I personally believe that he can not be trusted to tell the truth,” Bowen wrote.

Milotzky said Bowen’s press release raises some serious questions about the lawmaker’s involvement in the incident. 

“If he was there engaged with the group of individuals, he could potentially be charged with being party to a crime under state statute,” the detective and police union chief said.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) earlier this week said the attack on Mensah cannot be justified or rightly described as a “protest.” Instead, it was a an attempt to “circumvent two ongoing investigations and insert vigilante justice targeting his family, his neighbors, and those that may support him.”

Milotzky said as a state representative Bowen should know something about how laws are made.

“We would think that he would know that laws and policy changes are made in Madison, not with mob violence against off-duty officers at home,” he said.

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