Three white former police officers were sentenced to long prison terms Thursday for the off-duty beating of a biracial man, an attack that outraged the city and sent protesters into the streets.
A judge sentenced Jon Bartlett to 17 years and four months. Daniel Masarik was sentenced to 15 years and eight months, and Andrew Spengler received the same sentence. Each of the three also was sentenced to three years supervision and ordered to pay $16,365 in restitution.
Bartlett, 36, Masarik, 27, and Spengler, 28, were convicted with another former officer for taking part in the beating of Frank Jude Jr. outside a housewarming party in October 2004.
Bartlett was the ringleader in the attack, Jude wrote in a statement submitted to the court Thursday. Jude feared for his life and had hoped U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert would give Bartlett the maximum 20-year sentence, he wrote.
"You and your fellow police officer friends attempted to kill me and take my life," he wrote. "Mr. Bartlett, you are a disgrace, a disgrace to all police officers, and every public official in the world."
Retried on federal civil rights charges
Bartlett apologized to Jude in court Thursday, but he stood by his claim that he had to deal with an unruly suspect.
A federal jury determined in July that the three violated Jude's civil rights and conspired to assault him while acting as officers. Officer Ryan Packard was acquitted of federal charges.
The trial is the second round in a case that has haunted Milwaukee. The three men were acquitted of most state charges by an all-white jury in April 2006, angering the community. Federal authorities filed the civil rights charges six months later.
In the days after the state trial, black and white residents, including the mayor, expressed their outrage at community meetings. As many as 2,000 people marched from the Milwaukee County courthouse to the federal courthouse.
Incident in question
Jude, 29, said he had been at a party on Oct. 24, 2004, when a group of white men who identified themselves as off-duty officers kicked and punched him, put a knife to his throat and jammed a pen in his ears as he begged for mercy. Jude said he heard Spengler call him a racial slur.
"They came close to killing Mr. Jude," said his attorney, Jonathan Safran. "They caused him serious permanent physical injuries and mental injuries he and his family will have to deal with the rest of their lives."
Jude said the confrontation began as he and a friend were leaving the party, when a group of men surrounded their truck and dragged him out, accusing him of taking Spengler's badge. No badge was ever found.
The community has cried injustice since the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a front-page photo in February 2005 showing Jude's swollen, misshapen face just after the beating.
The police department disciplined 13 officers after the beating, including nine who were fired. Two of the fired officers won back their jobs, including Packard after a 20-day suspension.
Four others have pleaded guilty to similar federal charges. One has been sentenced to two years in prison and another a year in prison.
Two others are scheduled for sentencing Dec. 6.