WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Milwaukee, Wis., indicted former Milwaukee police officers Jon Bartlett, Andrew Spengler, Daniel Masarik, and Ryan Lemke, as well as current Milwaukee police officer Ryan Packard, with one count each 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 in October 2004. Each count carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A trial date has not yet been scheduled.
The grand jury charged that the defendants conspired to forcefully detain Frank Jude and Lovell Harris and to assault both victims in an effort to obtain information from them. As part of the conspiracy, the indictment charges that the defendants and other persons surrounded a vehicle in which the victims were sitting, brandished knives, physically pulled Jude and Harris from the vehicle, and intimidated Jude and the other occupants of the vehicle into submitting to a search. The indictment also states that the defendants and others forced Harris to sit on a curb while being guarded at knife point, and then punched and kicked Jude in the head, body, and groin, and stuck a sharp object into his ears.
The grand jury also charged that all five defendants and other persons assaulted Frank Jude while acting in an official capacity as agents of the law. In so doing, the indictment says, the officers willfully deprived Frank Jude of the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a person acting as a law enforcement officer.
Former Milwaukee police officer Joseph Stromei has agreed to plead guilty to a federal obstruction of justice charge in connection with the incident involving the assault on victims Jude and Lovell. In documents filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Stromei has agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of obstruction of justice for his role in covering up the assaults by making false statements in official reports and in his sworn testimony. Stromei faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Stromei is the third officer to agree to plead guilty to federal charges related to the assault of Frank Jude and Lovell Harris. With today’s indictment, a total of eight officers stand charged with federal crimes for assaulting Frank Jude and Lovell Harris.
In papers filed in court on October 5, 2006, former police officer Jon Clausing agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of Frank Jude and Lovell Harris by assaulting them, and former police officer Joseph Schabel agreed to plead 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.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
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. The Department of Justice has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights prosecutions in the last six years. Since fiscal year 2001, the Department has convicted 50 percent more defendants for excessive force and official misconduct than in the proceeding six years.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance 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 of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Trial Attorneys Stephen Curran and Edward Caspar of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting this case along with U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic.