Three officers granted immunity in new investigation into Joseph Mensah

January 6, 2022

Officer Joseph Mensah

The Milwaukee County judge who ruled last summer there was probable cause to charge former Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah with a crime in a deadly 2016 shooting, granted immunity Monday, January 3, 2022, to three Wauwatosa officers in the new investigation into the shooting days before the officers were scheduled to meet with the special prosecutor leading the probe.

On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Glenn Yamahiro signed the initial order granting immunity to officers Ralph Sayers and Stephen Mills, court records show.

The orders indicated the three officers were scheduled to meet with special prosecutors Tim Gruenke and Scott Hansen on January 5, 2022, to discuss the shooting death of Jay Anderson, Jr.

In a letter to Yamahiro requesting immunity for the officers, Gruenke, who is also the La Crosse County District Attorney, said the lawyer for the officers asked for a promise of immunity from a judge “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Although it may be unorthodox because neither of the officers are seen as suspects in any crime, and our interviews would not likely reveal any criminal activity, I agreed to request such a guarantee from the court so we can interview them about their involvement in this matter without any hesitations,” Gruenke wrote to Yamahiro.

“Whatever Officers Ralph Salyers, Stephen Mills, and Gary Gabrish are willing to say now should have been said in 2016 after our son was killed,” Anderson’s family said in a statement through their attorney, Kim Motley. “If they were covering up evidence they should also be held accountable.”

Last year, Motley pursued criminal charges against Mensah through an obscure state law that allows judges to directly question witnesses and decide whether probable cause exists to bring a criminal charge.

The process is known as a John Doe proceeding.

According to the Associated Press, at least six other states have similar statutory provisions, but attorneys say the process is rarely used in Wisconsin.

Motley sought the process after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm declined to file criminal charges against Mensah in 3 deadly shootings in a fiveyear span.

The two other people Mensah killed on the job were Antonio Gonzales in 2015 and Alvin Cole in February 2020.

It was June 23, 2016, when Mensah, a patrol officer, found Anderson, 25, asleep in a vehicle just after 3 a.m., in a park in Wauwatosa.

The officer said he shot Anderson after he reached for a gun.

The John Doe hearings concluded with Yamahiro ruling the evidence did not support Mensah’s version of the events.

Last month, Yamahiro appointed Gruenke and Hansen to re-investigate the case.

The special prosecutors are now tasked with deciding on potential criminal charges. Mensah eventually resigned from the department and was later hired by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office.

Records show he works as a detective. Anderson Family Statement:

“We hope that because they asked for immunity, they are willing to bring out evidence that should have been told in 2016 regarding our son.

We believe that a lot of people were covering up for Joseph Mensah. As Wauwatosa police officers, the fact they are asking for immunity is troubling. It is also very troubling that Mensah is presently a detective with the Waukesha Sheriffs Dept.

Whatever Officers Ralph Salyers, Stephen Mills, and Gary Gabrish are willing to say now should have been said in 2016 after our son was killed. If they were covering up evidence they should also be held accountable.

The evidence is clear that Mensah should have been criminally charged for killing Baby Jay in 2016. If he were charged then, Alvin Cole would likely be here today.”