Family and friends of Jay Anderson, Jr., who was shot and killed by a Wauwatosa police officer earlier this year, still have unanswered questions.
Those questions were brought up at an Oct. 5 meeting of a group calling themselves Tosa Together, who gathered in the Wauwatosa Public Library to discuss Wauwatosa's growing diversity and the city's responsibility to its neighbors and citizens of all races and backgrounds. The Anderson shooting was the primary topic.
Anderson was shot by a Wauwatosa police officer June 23 at approximately 3 a.m. in the parking lot of Madison Park. The case is currently under investigation by the Milwaukee Police Dept. at the request of the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office. The DA's office is involved due to the direction of the Attorney General's office.
Wauwatosa Police Department spokesman Lt. Brian Zalewski said because the investigation is being conducted by a third party, his department does not have any information to release regarding the shooting.
"We are prepared to go forward with releasing what we have when we get it from the DA's office," Zalewski said. "We are following the letter of the law in regards to the investigation."
Zalweski said the officer involved in the shooting is currently on administrative duty and will remain in that mode until the DA releases a decision on the case.
The family and friends of Anderson who spoke at the meeting are concerned with some aspects of the incident that they say the DA's office has failed to disclose. Specifically, they mentioned an alleged eight minutes of missing video during which the shooting took place. At this point there is only speculation regarding the reasons a portion of the video is missing.
"How long were (Anderson's) hands up? Were they up the whole eight minutes?" Anderson's fiancee Star Delarosa said. "Our main concern is why (the officer) turned the dash camera off. What was (the officer) doing during those eight minutes?"
Tosa Together is a new group of Wauwatosa residents with the goal of working for a more diverse and welcoming community. They say the city has been impacted by the recent shooting of Anderson and have decided to begin their work by hosting the public forum with the intention of raising awareness about the Anderson case.
"We are an organization that got together to display Wauwatosa as a racially diverse community," said Lynn Woehrle, professor of sociology at Mt. Mary University. "We have seen how much of a need there is in Wauwatosa to have a deeper conversation about these issues. This is not a single-issue group."
Since Anderson and his family have longtime ties to the city, Tosa Together believes that public communication about the event is very much needed. In light of the ongoing national and local cases of police-involved shootings impacting African American men, Tosa Together said they would like to affirm Wauwatosa as a community that embraces values of belonging, diversity and fair treatment. Because of these reasons they decided to make the Anderson case the focus of this meeting.
"We are not arguing about truth and not truth, but listening to what the family has to say," Woehrle said. "We recognize that the Tosa police don't have total control over the release of information due to the state law."
Also at the meeting was State Sen. Lena Taylor, who was the lead from the Senate in passing The Officer Involved Death Legislation that created the law that the Anderson case is being investigated under. The law was intended to take officer involved shootings that lead to deaths out of the hands of the department where the shooting takes place. When it was passed and signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker, the legislation was the first of its kind in the country.
Taylor feels it is necessary to enhance the legislation she helped to pass due to the fact that the duty of conducting the investigation has fallen on police officers. She feels it would be better to have independent investigators who are focused on looking into officer involved deaths who are not doing so as work above and beyond their normal duties.