A rogue group of police officers known as “The Punishers”. Wearing black gloves and caps with white skull emblems on them. Some even with Punisher tattoos on their arms. Going on patrol dishing out their own form of vigilante justice.
Sounds like a new PunisherMAX arc from Garth Ennis?
Or a reality in Milwaukee, and the subject of a number of investigations by the police. And suspected of being responsible of beating up one Frank Jude, Jr.
Jude was accused of stealing a wallet with a police badge in it from an off-duty police party six-and-a-half years ago. He was beaten up by drunk police officers, and repeatedly kicked him in the head and groin, his clothes cut off,l pens rammed in his ears and threatened with a knife and a gun. He stated that the officers used racial slurs. And no badge was found.
After a newspaper investigation by the Journal Sentinel, three officers were charged but acquitted. They were then later charged in federal court with civil rights violations along with four other officers, all of whom were then convicted.
Shortly after the beating a Milwaukee Police Department commander investigated a suspected rogue group of officers known as “the Punishers,” who wore black gloves and caps embossed with skull emblems while on patrol, according to newly released documents.
Capt. James Galezewski wrote in 2007, “This is a group of rogue officers within our agency who I would characterize as brutal and abusive.. At least some of the officers involved in the Jude case were associated with this group, although there is reason to believe the membership extended beyond those who were convicted in the case.”
However there was no mention of the group in the published internal investigation of the beating. A subsequent investigation into the group after a public complaint in 2008 by another commander could not confirm the group existed, and Galzewski was not contacted.
Galezewski wrote that several of the officers who beat Jude were associated with the group. Some had Punisher skull stickers on their cars, lockers and memo books. Andrew Spengler, who was convicted of beating Jude, had a Punisher skull with the number “7” on his truck. Jon Bartlett, who also was convicted, had a Punisher tattoo. Bartlett was also convicted of trying to buy an assault-style rifle similar to the one used by the comic character while he was out on bail – a violation of federal law.
Police Chief Edward Flynn issued a statement Wednesday stating “I directed the Professional Performance Division in 2008 to conduct a thorough investigation. PPD interviewed a number of officers, they reviewed the complaint file and could find no evidence that such an organized group ever existed nor is there any record of citizen complaints to any local or federal authority regarding the activities alleged.”
The documents involved with the case have now been unsealed. detailing a suspected member of the police, with his name redacted, with a Punisher tattoo. Galezewski recommended that, based on his attitude as a policeman, he be fired. He remains in the force, and was not disciplined.