MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A rookie police officer shot and wounded a woman in suburban Milwaukee after the woman began pounding on the officer’s squad car with a wooden post, authorities said Friday, marking another potentially incendiary incident in a city recovering from protests over another police shooting earlier this year.
The latest incident occurred Thursday evening in Wauwatosa after officers responded to a report of a 35-year-old woman attacking another woman with a stick, police said in a statement. Investigators later determined the two women did not know each other and the attack appears to have been random.
A 23-year-old female officer with nine months of experience located the attacker nearby. The woman charged at her squad car and started hitting the windshield with a wooden post, the statement said. The woman refused to comply with commands and advanced on her with the post, prompting the officer to open fire, according to the police statement.
Even after she was shot, the woman continued to hit the squad car with the post, the statement said. It took several officers to take her into custody. She was transported to a hospital where she underwent surgery, police said. She was in stable condition Friday.
“We understand that any use of force can be concerning to our citizens,” the statement said. “Police officers train to control individuals with the least amount of force necessary. Any time there is an officer involved shooting, we understand the community has many concerns. No police officer wants this to happen.”
The department did not release the names or races of the woman or the officer. The statement did not say if the officer fired from inside the squad car or got out to confront the woman.
The Wauwatosa Common Council earlier this year voted to equip every officer with a body camera by the end of 2020, but the police statement said no such footage of the shooting exists. Police did not elaborate. The department did release a blurry photo from the squad car’s dashboard camera that shows a woman standing in front of the car with what appears to be a stick or pole.
The West Allis Police Department is investigating per a state law that requires an outside agency to handle officer-involved shootings. That department’s deputy chief, Robert Fletcher, declined comment.
Jennifer Enright, who lives near the shooting scene, said she was talking to her mother around 9:30 p.m. when she heard gunshots “clear as day.” She then saw police lights from her window, the Journal Sentinel reported.
“The sirens weren’t stopping. They kept coming,” she said. “It was just crazy to hear.”
The shooting drew about 30 protesters to the area Thursday night. Some were yelling and cursing at officers.
Wauwatosa was the site of protests and calls for changes to policing after Officer Joseph Mensah shot and killed Alvin Cole, a Black 17-year-old, after he fled from police following a disturbance inside the mall in February.
Mensah, who also is Black, fatally shot three men in the last five years. Those shootings were ruled justified self-defense by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. Mensah agreed in November to resign from the force.
Matt Dahlstrom was at the scene of Thursday’s shooting, where officers from a number of area agencies assisted Wauwatosa police, including the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and Wisconsin State Patrol.
“It’s horrible. It is. It’s absolutely horrible. It’s scary. I have kids. I teach so I know tons of kids in the community. It supposed to be a safe community. And, now we’re just seeing so much going on. Flat out it’s just scary,” Dahlstrom told WITI-TV.