A judge in Wisconsin has ruled that a police officer’s fatal 2016 shooting of a Black man in a parked car deserves a second look, and possible criminal charges, after a district attorney earlier declined to file charges.
“Based upon the totality of the circumstances, the court does find probable cause that Officer Joseph Mensah operated a weapon, in a matter constituting criminal negligence, and in so doing, caused the death of Jay Anderson Jr.,” Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Glenn Yamahiro said in court Wednesday, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Therefore, the court finds probable cause that Officer Mensah committed the crime, homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon,” he said.
The judge now will appoint a special prosecutor to decide whether Mensah, a former Wauwatosa officer who resigned and now works for the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, should be charged in Anderson’s death.
Anderson, a 25-year-old father, was sitting in his car in a park in the Milwaukee suburb where Mensah, who is also Black, was patrolling in his squad car for after-hours loitering violations, according to an investigative report about the incident from Milwaukee police.
As Mensah approached Anderson’s vehicle about 3:03 a.m. on June 23, 2016, the officer, having observed movement in the car from afar, allegedly believed the sole occupant was pretending to be asleep, according to the report.
Mensah said that after tapping on the car window and then engaging Anderson in conversation, he spotted a handgun on the front passenger seat next to Anderson.
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Jeff Truesdell