Saturday, April 15, 2006
Even other cops know what really did happen in the Frank Jude case. For example, Officer Joseph Schabel, testified he saw all three off-duty officers charged in the beating of Jude punch or kick him after Schabel and his partner responded to the scene. "Officer Bartlett came in and kicked Jude in the face," Schabel said, adding he heard a "popping and cracking" sound. Schabel said he ordered Bartlett to step back. Spengler "punched him twice in the face," and Masarik kicked Jude in the head, the officer testified.
Didn't matter. The boys in blue walked free.
The editorial below comes from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Editorial: Justice undone in a case testing Milwaukee resolve
From the Journal Sentinel
Posted: April 15, 2006
A jury shocked Milwaukee late Friday with not-guilty verdicts in the Frank Jude beating case. Obviously, Jude suffered a wanton beating at the hands of off-duty police officers in October 2004 outside a house party in Bay View. But the jury apparently was not convinced that the officers on trial for the crime were the perpetrators. And that means the men who mercilessly beat Jude are, for now, unpunished.
Commendably, the U.S. Attorney will immediately consider whether federal charges are warranted. And civil suits should not be dismissed out of hand either.
The jury exonerated ex-officers Andrew Spengler and Daniel Masarik. It exonerated ex-officer Jon Bartlett on one charge but deadlocked on another, setting the stage for another trial.
These verdicts will, unfortunately, only deepen the suspicion in the black community that African-Americans can't get justice in Milwaukee.
This was a major trial for the community. It was a test of whether Milwaukee police officers are above the law. It highlighted a pernicious code of silence, by which officers, who are supposed to fight crime, cover up wrongdoing within their own ranks. And it involved the explosive combination of police and race.
But those interested in justice in this case must keep in mind there are other avenues. Jude, for instance, can file a civil suit seeking damages. What's more, the federal government will now explore whether federal charges are possible, a review that Milwaukee County Attorney E. Michael McCann urged late Friday and U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic agreed to do.
The case hits a raw nerve in Milwaukee, but the community must stay calm. And black leaders are to be commended for early on urging such calm.
Race is a sore issue in Milwaukee, as in the nation as a whole. And a deeply felt grievance among many African-Americans is that white officers mistreat black people with impunity. Frank Jude is biracial, and the officers who beat him were white. What's more, according to testimony, officers used the N-word that night in 2004 when they beat Jude mercilessly outside a house party in the Bay View neighborhood.
The trial got off to an ominous start, with the selection of an all-white jury, which fails to reflect Milwaukee County's racial diversity. On the whole, whites and blacks look at the issue of race differently. For instance, according to opinion polls, blacks are more inclined to believe that police brutality occurs. As we have editorialized, we believe that Circuit Judge David Hansher erred in letting such a non-representative jury hear such a racially sensitive case.
The jury's verdict - deadlocking on one charge against Bartlett but finding not guilty on all others - is tough to understand. During the trial, Lt. Stephen Basting, a police trainer noted that the only justification for inflicting the injuries Jude had was that the officers were fighting for their life, and in that case, they, too, should be showing injuries. They were not.
Jury verdicts around the country suggest that it's hard to convict on-duty cops for wrongdoing. This case shows that such a rule may apply to off-duty cops, too.
Perhaps the jury bought the whopper defense attorney Gerald Boyle told in court: that, if Jude had been kicked and punched dozens of times, he should have had more injuries.
An emergency room doctor who treated Jude the morning of Oct. 24, 2004, testified he had the worst ear injuries she had ever seen in 15 years of practice.
Kathleen Shallow said she took pictures of the injuries because there were so many. Besides his ears, Jude had two factures, to his sinus and nasal bone, an eye swollen shut, a grossly swollen hand, marks on his neck consistent with choking and cuts and bruises over much of his face and body, she said.
The witnesses said Jude was punched and kicked repeatedly in the head, face, body and groin and had a knife put to his throat. Jude said he was the subject of racial slurs, had his fingers yanked back and had something jammed into both ears.
As McCann noted in closing arguments, it was telling that all the civilian witnesses and the first on-duty officers saw the beating, but none of the 10 off-duty officers there did. McCann told Milwaukee.
"A ferocious beating is administered and no cop sees it?" McCann said with righteous anger. "What's going on here? Cover-up. I am the district attorney of this county. I don't want the cops kicking the (expletive) out of people and then accusing them of resisting."
Unfortunately, the perpetrators in this case are still not held to account..