WASHINGTON – A Milwaukee, Wis., jury today found three former Milwaukee police officers guilty of crimes relating to a brutal assault on two men in October 2004. Former police officers Jon Bartlett, Andrew Spengler and Daniel Masarik were each found guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Frank Jude and Lovell Harris and of violating the civil rights of Frank Jude by assaulting him. Each of the defendants faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been determined. Four other police officers involved in the assaults have previously pleaded guilty to federal crimes in connection with the same incident. A fourth defendant, and current Milwaukee police officer, Ryan Packard, was acquitted on all counts.
The evidence at trial showed that Bartlett, Spengler and Masarik, after several hours of drinking at a house party hosted by Spengler, surrounded a vehicle containing Frank Jude, Lovell Harris and two women. The defendants stopped the vehicle and accused the passengers of stealing a police badge. The defendants identified themselves as police officers, brandished knives, physically pulled the victims from the vehicle, and intimidated Frank Jude and the other occupants of the vehicle into submitting to a search. The evidence also proved that Bartlett and another off-duty police officer forced Lovell Harris to sit on a curb while being guarded at knife point, and that Bartlett, Masarik and Spengler assaulted Frank Jude. In addition, the three punched and kicked Jude in the head, body and groin both before and while he was handcuffed, and Bartlett stuck a sharp object into each of Jude’s ears.
“These officers used their positions of authority to brutally victimize Frank Jude and Lovell Harris,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a professional manner, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line and commit such wanton and unlawful acts.”
In announcing the convictions, Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, commended the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for jointly spearheading this federal investigation and prosecution, which included the assistance of local authorities. Steven M. Biskupic, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, noted the significant contribution of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, investigators from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, and the Milwaukee Police Department.
U.S. Attorney Biskupic, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mel Johnson and Carol Kraft, and Trial Attorneys Stephen Curran and Edward Caspar of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted this case.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of the federal criminal civil rights statutes, such as laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In fiscal year 2006, almost 50 percent of the cases filed by the Criminal Section involved excessive force or law enforcement misconduct. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has filed 25 percent more such cases and convicted nearly 50 percent more defendants in these cases than in the preceding six years.