WASHINGTON – Two former Milwaukee police officers today pleaded guilty to civil rights violations in relation to an assault on two men in October 2004. Former police officer Jon Clausing pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of Frank Jude and Lovell Harris by assaulting them. Former police officer Joseph Schabel pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Frank Jude by assaulting him and to an obstruction of justice charge for lying about details of the assault.
Clausing faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Schabel faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. A sentencing date had not yet been scheduled.
In documents filed today in federal court, Clausing admitted that he and other Milwaukee police officers conspired to deprive the victims of their civil rights by subjecting them to unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force. Clausing further admitted that he and other off-duty officers participated in an assault of Jude and Harris that included cutting Harris with a knife and repeatedly punching and kicking Jude because they believed Jude and Harris might have stolen a police badge.
In the plea agreement, Schabel admitted that while on duty as a Milwaukee police officer, and responding to the scene of the Frank Jude assault, Schabel kicked Jude in the head during the altercation involving the off-duty officers and the victims. Schabel also admitted that he subsequently lied about the assault in official reports and sworn testimony.
In announcing the guilty plea, Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, commended the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for jointly spearheading this continuing federal investigation, 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.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mel Johnson and Carol Kraft, and Trial Attorneys Stephen Curran and Edward Caspar of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting this case.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has increased the number of official misconduct prosecutions and has convicted 30 percent more defendants for these violations than during the preceding six years.