MILWAUKEE (AP) — Relatives of black man killed by a police officer in a suburban Milwaukee park say police squad car video shows he raised his hands at one point, and they contend there is no evidence he threatened the officer with a handgun that was in his car.
Jay Anderson Jr., 26, was in a car in Madison Park in Wauwatosa about 3 a.m. on June 23 when an officer knocked on the passenger side window, waking Anderson, according to a legal notice Anderson's family filed with the city on Monday as a first step toward a possible lawsuit.
Authorities have said the officer shot Anderson because he feared for his safety after seeing a handgun in the vehicle. The police dashcam video cited in the filing hasn't been released publicly, but Anderson's family members were allowed to view it with their attorney.
Anderson's family does not dispute the presence of the gun but say that Anderson did not lunge for it. The family's legal filing identifies the officer as Joseph Mensah, who also is black and who was involved in another fatal police shooting a year earlier.
The family says the police video shows Anderson putting his hands in the air and the officer with his gun drawn and pointed at Anderson through the passenger side front window. Anderson's hands then fall down and his head slumps forward as if he were falling asleep or passing out just before he was shot six times, according to the claim, which was filed on behalf of Anderson's minor daughter and his estate.
"It is quite obvious that Jay Anderson never lunged for the gun, never pointed the gun," Anderson family attorney Jonathan Safran said Tuesday. "It certainly flies in the face of what this officer said."
Wauwatosa City Attorney Alan Kesner said he hadn't yet seen the notice of injury and could not comment. Wauwatosa police did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and department officials have previously declined to talk about the case until prosecutors decide whether charges are warranted. A working phone number could not be found for Mensah and no one answered the door Tuesday at his home.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office is still reviewing the case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said Tuesday.
Safran said that Wauwatosa police removed the gun from Anderson's vehicle, but did not collect evidence or photograph where the weapon was located.
"The gun had been removed and secured in one of the officers' trunks. The fact they removed it is crucial evidence," Safran said. "That's police science 101."
The notice filed by the Anderson family said the city and its police force were negligent in failing to preserve the crime scene for Milwaukee police officers who were called to investigate. It alleges Mensah's use of deadly force was unwarranted, excessive and unconstitutional.
It's not the first time Mensah has been involved in a shooting. He and another officer, Jeffrey Newman, were cleared by prosecutors in the July 2015 fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzalez. Authorities said Gonzalez, 29, was wielding a sword when officers shot him.