This Is What Racism/White Supremacy Looks Like…Oh, and They Were Found NOT Guilty!?
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Police suspected in man’s beating
No charges, arrests in incident involving off-duty officers at party
By JOHN DIEDRICH
Frank Jude Jr. suffered a brutal beating on a street in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood early Oct. 24. Surrounded by a dozen men, he was kicked repeatedly in the head, stripped naked and threatened with a knife, his attorney said.
Authorities knew right away who was involved, but more than three months later no one has been charged or even arrested.
The suspects? Off-duty Milwaukee police officers who claimed Jude stole one of their badges. The officers said they had to subdue Jude because he fought with them.
Witnesses tell a different story – that Jude didn’t steal anything, that he wasn’t resisting, and that the some of the crowd dragged him out of a truck and beat him maliciously.
Jude was arrested and taken by police wagon to the hospital – no ambulance was called. Prosecutors did not file charges against him, instead focusing on the off-duty officers’ actions. In connection with the incident, four off-duty officers were suspended by Chief Nannette Hegerty, who declined to comment on the pending matter.
The investigation has been slowed by some officers who aren’t fully cooperating, the district attorney said. A secret John Doe investigation was launched in an effort to get witnesses to talk.
Jude, 26, has been interviewed extensively but can’t identify his attackers, said Deputy District Attorney Jon Reddin, the lead prosecutor.
“He is very little help of telling us what happened,” he said. “He was beaten within an inch of his life.”
Prosecutors must also overcome the fact that Jude would be a likely target of credibility attacks by defense attorneys. He has felony convictions for selling marijuana and bribing a police officer in 1996. He later was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and battery, the second charge in 2000. He served a year in prison for the bribery charge, according to an online database of court records maintained by the state.
Many officers won’t tell all they know, some because they committed crimes, others because of “misplaced loyalty” to colleagues, said District Attorney E. Michael McCann, who called Jude’s case “horrendous” and compared it to the 1981 beating of James Schoemperlen, whose skull was fractured by Milwaukee officers after a car chase.
“There’s no question crimes were committed,” McCann said last week. “This is not the usual type of case. Instead of police cooperating with you, you have a number of police who are intent on obstructing the inquiry.”
McCann emphasized that some officers have cooperated, everyone has a right to remain silent, his office is not naming suspects and that his comments should not necessarily be taken to apply to the four suspended officers.
More than 100 days after the assault, Jude struggles with its aftermath, both physically and mentally.
“If I committed this crime, I would be in jail,” he said. “They should not be on the street. I am scared. I don’t need that, and my kids don’t need that. All I want and all that I ask for is justice.”
Confrontation at party
Jude started the night of Oct. 23 performing at a bachelorette party. Jude, who worked at a medical supply company loading trucks, moonlighted as a stripper. Lovell Harris, 32, carried equipment for Jude that night.
Afterward, the men went to a bar with some of the partygoers, including Kirsten Antonissen and Katie Brown. Another woman invited Antonissen, Brown and the men to a party in Bay View, near S. Ellen St. and E. Rusk Ave., at a house owned by Andrew Spengler, one of the suspended officers.
The woman went first and made sure it was OK with Spengler that all four came to his party, Brown and Antonissen said in an interview Saturday.
The party at Spengler’s house had been going on for hours and involved heavy drinking, according to one neighbor.
When Brown and Antonissen and the men walked in together, many of the 25 to 30 guests, who were all white, stared, Brown said.
“It was a very uncomfortable situation,” said Brown, 22, a college student.
The women said they immediately went to the bathroom, leaving Jude and Harris, who are both black, for a brief time. When they came out, Jude asked if the people there were racist based on something he heard, Antonissen said. She did not know what was said.
Jude declined to discuss what happened Oct. 24 because his attorney, Jonathan Safran, said it may jeopardize the investigation.
Antonissen suggested they all leave if Jude and Harris were uncomfortable. They walked out. The women got into Antonissen’s Ford F-150 pickup truck. Jude and Harris stood outside the vehicle.
Safran and Harris’ attorney, Michael Bishop, said neither man stole anything from the house.
Spengler, a six-year veteran of the force, gave a different account, according to police reports. Spengler said he caught Jude coming out of his bedroom and then noticed that his wallet, which held his badge, was missing. Spengler confronted Jude and Harris but neither man answered and they left, the report said.
“At this time, Spengler notified other off-duty officers of this and followed Harris and Jude to their vehicle stating to them that his property was missing and identified themselves as Milwaukee Police officers and ordered Harris and Jude to stand by until he was able to confirm this,” the report said.
Spengler came out and confronted Harris and Jude again, the report said. Harris ran off, and Jude “began to physically fight with Spengler and other off-duty officers,” the report said.
Those other officers are identified in the report as Jon Bartlett, Daniel Masarik, Ryan Packard and a former officer, Michele Bartlett. Spengler, Jon Bartlett, Masarik and Packard are suspended with pay, police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said.
‘Blood shooting out’
As people gathered on the porch, the women urged Jude and Harris to get in the truck, which was quickly surrounded by 10 to 15 people, said Antonissen, 23, also a college student. They all identified themselves as officers but didn’t show identification, screaming that a badge and a gun had been stolen and demanding that they get out, Antonissen and Brown said said. There is no mention of a stolen gun in police reports.
Antonissen said she suggested they call 911 so she could be sure they were really police, but the screaming continued.
Then one man broke a headlight on Antonissen’s truck, which prompted Brown to exit the truck. Antonissen followed. The women aren’t clear on what happened to Harris, but both remembered that Jude was pulled out of the truck by his legs.
One man took Antonissen’s keys and another took Jude’s keys. Authorities later found his Saturn vandalized: the seats cut, outside mirror broken, antifreeze poured in the back seat and stereo equipment broken.
A woman who said she was an officer searched Brown and Antonissen and their purses, they said.
Meanwhile, Jude and Harris were confronted by several men, their attorneys said.
One cut Harris’ face with a knife and told him turn around to be assaulted with the knife, said his attorney, Bishop. Harris, who didn’t return a call for comment, broke free and ran. He was arrested later and booked into the jail on suspicion of theft, which has not been pursued by prosecutors.
Spengler held Jude in a headlock against a car while the men shouted questions and punched him, said Antonissen, who estimated she was 15 feet away. Then Jude went to the ground on his stomach with roughly 12 men around him, all kicking and punching him as his arms were held behind his back, the women said.
“I couldn’t watch very much of it. Men were just kicking him. You could see blood shooting out. I have never seen anything like it. It was disgusting. I hate thinking about it,” Antonissen said, tears forming in her eyes.
The police report indicates that Jude fought the off-duty officers and later the uniformed officers, refusing to put his hands behind his back. Antonissen and Brown said that’s not true.
“They had his arms behind his back the whole time,” Brown said. “There was nothing he could do.”
McCann said officers can use “reasonable force” to subdue someone, but added, “I don’t think anyone could contend what happened here was reasonable.”
Antonissen called her mother and then 911 on her cell phone. On the recorded calls, her voice ranges from indignation to hysteria.
The off-duty officers warned each other that police were on the way, Antonissen said. The first squad car, with officers Joseph Schabel and Nicole Martinez, arrived at 3 a.m., and Sgt. Corstan Court arrived a minute later, police records show. At the same time, Antonissen was talking to an emergency operator.
On the tape, Antonissen said the responding officers beat Jude, too. In the interview, Antonissen said she doesn’t recall that but said it was a chaotic situation and trusted what she told the 911 operator.
Schabel, Martinez and Court did not return calls seeking comment for this story. Messages were conveyed to them through their commanders, said Schwartz, the department spokeswoman.
McCann declined to say whether the on-duty officers, who he noted were less experienced than the off-duty police, are being investigated.
At one point on the tape of the 911 call, Antonissen tells the operator one of the officers is trying to get her off the phone.
“He’s stealing the phone from me,” Antonissen says. “They’re twisting my arm.”
A man says, “Hang up the phone.”
“Hello?” the operator says.
Then the line goes dead.
At least 10 squads responded, along with internal investigators. As an officer took away Jude, who was naked from the waist down, he looked “like a bomb had exploded in his face,” Antonissen said.
The women were detained while investigators questioned off-duty officers.
Carolyn Anderson, a neighbor of Spengler who said she didn’t see the incident but awoke when police arrived, said suspects were being questioned in front seats of the squad cars. “I thought, ‘This is wrong. They are being so nice to these guys. If these were regular people they would be hauled off,’ ” Anderson said.
Attorneys for the four suspended officers all said their clients didn’t do anything wrong and have cooperated with investigators.
“We believe they conducted themselves in not only an appropriate but a professional manner throughout the entire course of the incident and the ensuing investigation,” said Steve Kohn, who represents Masarik and Packard.
Bridget Boyle, who represents Jon Bartlett, said he was “very distraught over this and wants to get back to his job. My client is extremely cooperative.”
Spengler’s attorney, Martin Kohler, said his client was inside for most of the incident. “These are uninvited guests, the badge is stolen and these guys are trying to get way with it,” Kohler said.
Reddin is convinced Jude didn’t steal the badge. “His clothes were literally cut off of him by the officers. If he had had the badge, they would have found it,” he said.
McCann said progress is being made in the case, but couldn’t guarantee that charges would be filed. “What happened here was an abuse of power, and we hope to get to the bottom of it and it takes careful, patient winnowing and sifting of the evidence,” he said.
As a last resort, he said, prosecutors may consider offering immunity, but that could risk giving a break to a main culprit.
‘Take off your mask Daddy’
Jude was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he would spend the next 2½ days recovering.
He suffered a concussion, a broken nose and fractured sinus cavity, cuts in both ears, cuts and swelling to his left eye, neck, head, face, legs and back, and a severely sprained left hand, his attorney said. His left eye was swollen shut and continued to bleed for 10 days, he said.
Jude said he will need surgery to breathe through his nose again, may have permanent disability in one hand and suffers diminished vision. He said he has nightmares and panics when he sees police near his home in the Fox Valley area or when he visits extended family in Milwaukee.
At 6 feet tall, Jude, who was 230 pounds and physically fit at the time of the beating, said that helped him endure the ordeal.
“I believe if I was a smaller man I never would have survived,” he said.
Safran said the state is paying Jude’s medical bills of more than $15,000 because he is classified as a crime victim.
Jude said the incident has affected his wife, 4-year-old boy and baby girl. The day he came home from the hospital, Jude said, his son thought he had dressed early for Halloween.
“He said, ‘Take off your mask Daddy.’ And he tried to take it off. I said, ‘I’m OK. I’m OK.’ I had tears in my eyes. I’ll never forget that.”