(CNN)A police officer in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, will not face criminal charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole, the prosecutor reviewing the case said Wednesday.
Wauwatosa police officer won't face charges in deadly shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole
Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm wrote in a letter to the Wauwatosa police chief that there was "sufficient evidence" showing that officer Joseph Mensah believed deadly force was necessary and "that belief was objectively reasonable."
"I do not believe that the State could disprove self-defense or defense of others in this case and therefore could not meet the burden required to charge Officer Mensah. With this I conclude my criminal review of the matter," Chisholm wrote about his decision.
Kim Motley, an attorney for Cole's family, told CNN the family learned about the decision in a meeting with Chisholm on Wednesday and said the district attorney is not stating Cole's shooting was justified.
"We've always maintained that Officer Joseph Mensah should be held accountable for his actions, and unfortunately today, we disagree with Chisholm's assessment of what he saw," the attorney told reporters on Wednesday.
Cole was shot and killed outside a Wauwatosa mall on February 2 when police responded to a disturbance call, police said. Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber told reporters at the time that Cole fired a gun before an officer returned fire.
Weber called Cole's death a tragedy in a statement on Wednesday and said the department "sympathizes with his family as they, and others, continue to grieve the loss of their loved one."
"The administration of justice demands a legal and purposeful review of the facts. That was done in this case," Weber said. "Police officers are put into difficult situations that require a decision to be made in fractions of seconds."
In his report, Chisholm said Cole had a stolen 9 mm pistol while he was at the mall and displayed the pistol during an argument with another patron.
"He was encountered by Wauwatosa Police officers in the parking lot of Mayfair Mall, ran from the police, discharged the firearm and was ordered to surrender the weapon," Chisholm wrote. "He did not surrender the weapon and was fired upon by Officer Mensah causing his death."
Chisholm released an eight-minute compilation video of the night Cole was fatally shot.
The video shows what looks like an officer walking toward something and pointing a gun. Someone says "drop the gun," before a gunshot sounds. Cole cannot be seen in the footage at the time of the shooting. What sounds like several gunshots can be heard soon afterward.
Motley said she represents Cole's family and the families of two other people who she said were killed by Mensah. The families are calling for Mensah to be fired and charged in all three cases, Motley said.
All three families have filed formal complaints against Mensah for incidents that took place in Wauwatosa, Motley said.
Motley said Mensah should have never been a police officer.
"He is still getting paid. He's suspended with pay, and he needs to be removed as an officer immediately," she said. "We do not have to wait for a hearing. It can happen today, right now."
Mensah has been on administrative suspension pending a decision by the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission, Weber said.
CNN has reached out to the district's attorney office and Mensah's attorney for additional comment.
Earlier on Wednesday, a former US attorney hired as an independent investigator by the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission determined that Mensah is not fit for duty and recommended his termination. Motley shared the investigator's report with CNN.
"The risk and ensuing consequences to the Wauwatosa Police Department and the City of Wauwatosa of a fourth shooting by this Officer are too great for this Commission to find otherwise," Steven Biskupic wrote in his report.
City officials issued a curfew in Wauwatosa in anticipation of possible protests following the announcement in Cole's case. The 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew started Wednesday and will run nightly until Monday morning.
"It is very important to note that the City of Wauwatosa recognizes the importance of peaceful protests and their role in moving society forward. We must balance this with our charge to ensure that our community, lives, and property are protected," the city said in a statement.
Protesters began gathering in downtown Milwaukee ahead of Wednesday's decision. Wauwatosa is a suburb of Milwaukee located west of the city.
Late Wednesday evening the Wauwatosa Police Department posted a series of tweets describing violence after the announcement that Mensah would not be charged.
It retweeted two videos from a third party, showing individuals throwing large rocks into businesses and causing damage to residential homes.
The police characterized the video as an example of "unlawful assembly" and said officers had ordered protesters to disperse immediately.
"What started as a protest has become a large disturbance of public order that has caused property damage, and is threatening to cause injury to persons," the department tweeted.
Police said they had used tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd. They said some individuals were throwing large rocks at law enforcement and buildings in the area of Swan Boulevard and West North Avenue.
"Residents in this area are advised to shelter in their homes, lock their doors, and move away from windows," the department tweeted.
It said police and the National Guard had established a protective perimeter around Wauwatosa City Hall.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers deployed the Wisconsin National Guard to Wauwatosa after "officials there requested the Guard's assistance to help ensure public safety," according to an earlier statement from the Wisconsin National Guard.