Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook recounts the horrific police attack on Frank Jude in a ruling this month from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
By way of background, Jude tagged along with some young ladies to a house party late one evening. The party was mostly off-duty cops who immediately made Jude feel unwelcome. Jude left after just 5 minutes, but several men followed him out to the street and accused him of stealing someone’s police badge. Then the beating began:
Men punched Jude’s face and torso; when he fell to the ground, they kicked his head and thighs. The partygoers behaved as a mob. Not a single person in the house tried to stop the attack or even to call for aid. Jon Clausing, who had slashed Harris’s face, explained his conduct as “just kind of going along with everybody.” That is the way of the mob. Society has police forces to pose a counterweight to mobs, yet here the police became a mob.
Schabel and Martinez were on duty and had not been drinking, so they should have put a stop to the violence. Instead Schabel joined it, while Martinez watched. On being told that Jude had stolen Spengler’s badge, Schabel called Jude a “motherfucker” and stomped on his face until others could hear bones breaking. After telling Martinez “I’m really sorry you have to see this,” Daniel Masarik picked Jude off the ground and kicked him in the crotch so hard that his body left the ground. Jon Bartlett then took one of Schabel’s pens and pressed it into each of Jude’s ear canals, causing severe injury and excruciating pain. The men also broke two of Jude’s fingers by bending them back until they snapped. Spengler put a gun to Jude’s head and said: “I’m the fucking police. I can do whatever I want to do. I could kill you.” Bartlett used a knife to cut off Jude’s jacket and pants, leaving him naked on the street in a pool of his own blood.
The attack was so violent that it couldn’t be ignored. Several officers were prosecuted, but the blue wall of silence kicked in and several officers committed perjury to shield their criminal acts. Judge Easterbrook writes, “The distance between civilization and barbarity, and the time needed to pass from one state to the other, is depressingly short.”