MILWAUKEE – Three police officers were charged Monday in the beating of a man outside a house party in what witnesses have called a racially motivated attack.
The charges come more than four months after Frank Jude Jr. (search) said he was viciously beaten Oct. 24 by a group of men who identified themselves as off-duty police officers.
Jon Bartlett (search), Daniel L. Masarik and Andrew R. Spengler were all charged with substantial battery. Bartlett and Masarik were each charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, and Masarik also faces a perjury charge.
Witnesses said about 10 people surrounded Jude, beat him and kicked him in the head while holding his arms behind his back when he was face down in the street.
At least one officer who responded to the assault told investigators she saw one of the suspects allegedly hold a knife to Jude's neck and threaten to kill him, according to a criminal complaint.
Jude said his attackers stripped him of his pants and stuck sticks in his ears outside a south-side house party where the men accused him of taking a police badge from the home.
Police said they did not find the missing badge; Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann (search) declined to say Monday whether it was found.
According to claims filed against the city by Jude and others, the white officers used racial slurs as they attacked Jude, who is black.
Although the complaint does not refer to the racial slurs, McCann said race likely played a role — but was not the reason the off-duty officers targeted Jude. Jude's attorney, Jonathan Safran, disagreed.
"He (Jude) feels that indeed there should be other charges and that hate crimes penalties should be attached," Safran said.
Jude suffered a concussion, contusions to his face, hand and back, and sinus and nose fractures, the complaint said.
Four officers were suspended during the investigation, and Police Chief Nanette Hegerty has said the department will conduct its own review. The fourth officer has not been charged. McCann has said his investigation was hampered by the unwillingness of some officers to cooperate.
"I'm pleased that we have the charges," Mayor Tom Barrett said. "I'm disappointed we don't have more cooperation from some of the police officers who were clearly at the scene at the time."
The three officers, who all remain suspended with pay, appeared in court Monday and were released after posting $5,000 bail each.