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April 26, 2006
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Wis. officer's role in Jude case leaves questions

Copyright 2006 Journal Sentinel Inc.

At center of conflicting testimony, Packard wasn't charged, remains on force

By JOHN DIEDRICH
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

One of the lingering questions in the beating of Frank Jude Jr. was raised last week by a juror who voted to clear the three police officers: Why wasn't Ryan Packard charged?

Packard, an off-duty officer and early suspect, was suspended along with defendants Jon Bartlett, Andrew Spengler and Daniel Masarik. By his own account, Packard took down Jude but said he left before the beating. Testimony on what he did was mixed. Two off-duty officers said Packard punched Jude. Two others said he wasn't there.

District Attorney E. Michael McCann said that wasn't enough to charge Packard.

Packard not only wasn't charged, he got the lightest punishment of 13 officers disciplined. Packard was given 23 days without pay - far less than two on-duty officers who have been praised by Chief Nannette Hegerty for testifying. They each got 76 days, unpaid.

Hegerty fired nine officers, including three who had no contact with Jude. They were fired for not stopping the beating. Two ultimately got their jobs back.

Hegerty declined to comment about Packard as federal agencies investigate the beating. She has testified that Packard hit Jude but acted appropriately.

Possible federal charges include civil rights violations by off-duty officers, such as Packard, who claimed to be on duty. Packard, in fact, filed 9.7 hours of overtime for what he did on Oct. 24, 2004, but he didn't cooperate with investigators.

It took five months before he told anyone from the department that he used force against Jude.

Until last week, Packard was stationed downtown. He was working at the metal detector at police headquarters the night the verdict came in. He has been moved to the records division.

Rodney Cubbie, Packard's attorney, said his client didn't hit Jude and didn't make a deal.

"I think the chief took a long, careful look," Cubbie said of Packard's punishment. "Ryan was misidentified by certain people, and he was credible in the internal investigation."

Packard said he went to Spengler's party at 12:30 a.m. Jude and three others arrived just before 3 a.m. Spengler said his badge was stolen. Packard said he and others stopped Jude, who tried to pull away. Packard said he helped take down Jude and then got up and went to look for another man.

Packard said he returned 10 minutes later to find on-duty officers around Jude but never saw anyone kick or beat him.

Off-duty officers Michelle Grutza and Ryan Lemke, a couple who had also come to the party, backed Packard's story and denied seeing the beating.

Other officers gave different accounts.

Jodi Kamermayer, who worked with Packard, testified that he hit Jude. Bradley Blum said he "believed" he saw Packard hit Jude, according to an internal investigation. Bartlett testified that Packard hit Jude twice in the face.

On-duty officer Joseph Schabel said Packard - along with the defendants - was on Jude when he arrived, but he didn't see him hit Jude. Another on-duty officer, Nicole Belmore, didn't see Packard on Jude.

Packard told investigators he refused to talk to detectives at the scene because, he was "detained and he became the focus of a criminal investigation," the internal report said.

While the criminal complaint included allegations against Packard, McCann said there were too many different accounts to charge him.

After charges were filed, Hegerty opened an internal investigation that ended with her firing nine officers, demoting an on-duty sergeant and giving Schabel, Belmore and Packard unpaid suspensions.

Packard received 20 days for failing to help investigators and three days for failing to report using force.

At the appeals for Blum and Lemke, the chief was asked why she didn't fire Packard for using force. "I didn't feel I would be able to sustain that charge . . . ," she testified. "Officer Packard delivered those focus strikes when they were trying to take Mr. Jude (into) custody."

Hegerty said she fired Blum and other bystanders for what they didn't do. Lemke, who admitted he kicked Jude, was fired for mishandling a prisoner, lying and gross neglect of duty.

"The officers just failed, failed in all of their responsibilities as Milwaukee police officers on that scene, failed to stop the crime, failed to document the crime, failed to document the use of force, failed to report to a supervisor," she said.

Packard, 26, failed to do at least the last two, and if he was present at the beating, all of them.

Full story: Wis. officer's role in Jude case leaves questions






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