March 31, 2005 -- -- You would think that a party at a police officer's house, full of off-duty police officers, would be among the safest places to have fun.
Frank Jude, 26, doesn't think so. The Milwaukee-area man had been invited by another guest to such a party on Oct. 24, 2004. He left cuffed and savagely beaten.
"It looked like a bomb had went off in Frank's face," said Kirsten Antonissen, who accompanied him to the party.
Jude's pants were also cut off his body. He says he was kicked repeatedly in the groin, his fingers were yanked back and a pen was jammed in both of his ears.
"I thought he was going to die, I really did. The beating that he took, I cannot believe that anybody would have lived through that," Antonissen said.
Jude says a mob of off-duty police officers from the party was responsible for his injuries. Antonissen says when she called 911 for help, the officers who arrived joined in.
They both say that when their group arrived at the party, everyone else they saw was white. Antonissen is also white, but Jude is a very light-skinned African-American.
Tagging Along Toward Danger
Jude and Antonissen only met one another a few hours before they attended the party.
Antonissen and her friend, Katie Brown, both college seniors, were attending a bachelorette party for a close friend when Jude showed up as the stripper. Jude arrived with an assistant, Lovell Harris, who is also black.
Afterward, the party moved on to a local tavern. Jude and Harris were invited along.
Then Antonissen got a call from a girlfriend who invited them to join her at a party on Milwaukee's South Side, in a mostly white, working-class neighborhood.
By the time Antonissen, Brown, Jude and Harris arrived, it was nearly two in the morning. The party had been going on for hours and there was a lot of alcohol.
Brown says she remembers they received a strange reception when they arrived. "There were probably like 30 people in the house, and everybody just stopped what they were doing and looked at us. It was a very, very uncomfortable situation."
Jude said: "I don't know if it was my skin color, because ... Lovell's skin color. I really don't know the reason. "
'We Are the Cops'
While the two women went to the bathroom, Jude said he and Harris were approached by the party's host, Andrew Spengler, who was then an off-duty police officer.
Jude said the other guests followed Spengler and stood behind him, in order to intimidate him and Harris.
Antonissen said when Jude told her he was uncomfortable and asked if the host and his guests were racist, she said she didn't know the people at the party. She suggested they leave immediately.
When they walked out to go to their cars, several of the party-goers came out of the house and began walking toward them, the four recalled. Antonissen said she told Jude and Harris to get in her truck.
A crowd from the party soon surrounded their truck and started shouting about a missing police badge, the four say.
"'Nobody stole a badge,'" Antonissen said she told them. "'Let's call the cops.'
"That's when they all said, 'We are the cops; you don't need to call the cops', " she said.
A member of the crowd then punched the truck's headlamp, the four say. Brown says she jumped out, offering her purse for inspection. Antonissen said someone demanded that she get out and hand over her keys.
She said she responded by saying she was going to call 911. She said someone told her, "Do it, and I'll kick your ass."
She says she dialed anyway, and on a 911 recording she can be heard telling an operator that a mob claiming to be police officers was "going through our stuff right now. They're claiming we stole their wallets and we did not."
Harris said he was then pulled from the truck by two men uttering racial slurs. He said one of them sliced his cheek before he broke free and ran.
Jude said he was also pulled out, even as he repeatedly protested he had done nothing wrong. The mob began to beat him, Brown said. She said the group was "just punching and kicking this guy, just constantly yelling and screaming, 'Where's my badge, where's my badge?"
Jude said he begged them to stop. Brown said there were some people standing on the side, laughing. Then they ripped Jude's pants, Brown said, and the mob demanded to know where Harris went.
"They opened my legs and, you know, threatened me, and you know, 'N----r, where's the n----r at? Where's the n----r piece of sh--?'" Jude said.
Antonissen described a gruesome scene: "I could actually see blood shooting up in the air. Frank's whole head was covered in blood. It was just a big, huge red mess."
'Stay Off the Phone'
Ten minutes after the beating began, a squad car pulled up, and Jude recalled thinking, "Okay, thank God."
But then Jude was handcuffed, and still the beating continued, he says. The responding officer has said he was told that Jude was resisting arrest.
Someone in the mob then noticed Antonissen on her cell phone, she says. On 911 tapes, she's heard telling the operator, "He's stealing the phone from me … they're twisting my arm," and in the background a male voice: "Stay off the phone."
Twenty more minutes passed until Jude was taken from the scene, Antonissen said -- not in an ambulance, but in a police wagon. It took him to the hospital.
No Charges Filed
Doctors treated Jude, but he says he refused to say what happened until the police left. When they did, he said he told them what happened, and they took photos of his injuries.
Meanwhile, the mob had forgotten about Antonissen. She and Brown visited the hospital the following day looking for Jude.
"As soon as I walked into the room and saw him laying there, I broke down," Antonissen said. She said she felt guilty for taking him to the party in the first place.
"Had we not gone there, this never would have happened," she said. "It was definitely an eye opener for me, to not go around people you don't know, regardless of who they are or their standing in the community."
The official police report on the incident blames Jude for "physically fight(ing) with ... off-duty officers" who were "attempting to restrain him until uniformed squads arrived."
Both Jude and Harris -- who was picked up later -- were held on suspicion of theft of a police badge. But no charges were ever filed against them.
To Break the Blue Wall
Within days of the incident, Spengler, the host of the party, and three other police officers were suspended from the force. But the criminal probe stalled.
Jude was unable to identify any of his alleged attackers. The women said they could pick out only a couple of people and couldn't be sure if they were the ones hitting Jude.
As a result, investigators had to rely on the help of more than a dozen cops who were at the scene. Three months passed without any charges filed. The investigation hit a "blue wall of silence."
Milwaukee was on edge until this month, when Spengler and two other officers, Daniel Masarik and Jon Bartlett were arrested for the felony battery of Jude. All entered pleas of not guilty.
None of the three would talk to "Primetime Live" on camera. But Spengler invited co-anchor John Quiñones into his home to assert he was not guilty as charged.
At a pretrial hearing this month, police Officer Joseph Schabel broke the code of silence. He was on duty the night of Spengler's party and says he witnessed the three defendants beating Jude right in front of him.
Schabel and his partner will be the key witnesses for the prosecution, but the district attorney is urging other officers to come forward with information. Milwaukee police are conducting an internal investigation.
Jude is calling for justice. "I want more officers to come forward. Speak the truth," he said.
Meanwhile, he expressed gratitude that Brown and Antonissen were with him that night -- even though they had only known him for a few hours.
"Without them two calling 911, I wouldn't be here," he said. "They're angels on my side."