MILWAUKEE — Three white former city police officers were convicted July 27 on federal charges of beating to near death a biracial man, Frank Jude Jr. A fourth suspended officer, Ryan Packard, was acquitted.

The beating occurred here in October 2004 at a housewarming party of one of the convicted officers. Off-duty officers assaulted Jude while officers who arrived on duty did nothing. The beating is seen as having been primarily racially motivated. The officers could face up to $500,000 in fines and 20 years in prison.

Last year, an all-white jury acquitted the three officers, Jon Bartlett, Daniel Masarik and Andrew Spengler, of most state charges.

Soon after, the group Justice for Jude/Justice for All organized protests. In April 2006, thousands protested for justice in front of the federal courthouse here. The Police Accountability Coalition, which has called for an independent civilian review board, organized the rally.

Six months later, federal prosecutors brought charges against the four officers.

Seven months passed from the time of the beating until Milwaukee Police Chief Nannette Hegerty disciplined 13 officers involved in the beating, including firing nine. Two of the fired officers regained their jobs. Early in the case, officers refused to testify against one another, and authorities delayed any type of action.

Due to state law, the fired officers, including those found guilty, are still on the police payroll until sentencing. The three convicted officers have received over $400,000 in pay since they lost their jobs. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has called for the repeal of the law that pays former officers during the appeals process.

This victory is only part of a much larger battle against police brutality and accountability in the city. In December, police officers assaulted parishioners at a Pentecostal church, sending one to the emergency room.

Convicted officer Bartlett is already serving jail time for a bomb threat and for lying on a background check for a weapons purchase, but has never faced charges for shooting seven times and killing Larry Jenkins in 2002.

Officer Alfonzo Glover committed suicide after killing 25-year-old Wilbert Prado, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

The victims of these police beatings and shootings have been overwhelmingly youth of color.

Activists hope the victory in the Jude case will lead to more victories for past abuses, some dating back to the early 1980s. After the Jude verdict, Chief Hegerty said, “Those responsible for the beating of Frank Jude on Oct. 24, 2004, have now been held accountable for their actions by a court of law.” The Police Accountability Coalition states that at least six more officers should face charges for the beating.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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