Wis. officers go to trial in beating case

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Black residents were incensed when four months went by before charges were filed against white police officers accused of punching, kicking and choking a biracial man outside a house party.
The 2004 case intensified racial tensions in this city that is 37 percent black and has some of the nation's most segregated neighborhoods.
With the trial of three officers accused of the beating set to start Monday, some say the animosity has eased. And the defendants and nine other officers have been fired.
However, the black community still will watch the outcome closely.
"You have to keep an open mind with things like this because it affects so many people," said Jerry Ann Hamilton, president of the NAACP in Milwaukee. "The community is trying very hard to see some credibility in the police force as well as the whole justice system."
In October 2004, Frank Jude Jr., two white women and a black friend went to a party at the home of police officer Andrew Spengler in a mostly white, working-class neighborhood on the city's south side.
One officer at the party accused Jude of stealing a badge. The four left, but prosecutors say a group of off-duty officers followed them out to the street and some of the officers beat Jude severely while using a racial slur. Defense lawyers say Jude fought when confronted outside.
Jude, 27, of Appleton, still has physical and emotional pain from the attack, his lawyer said.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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