Tough times continue for Frank Jude, the Milwaukee man who was the victim of a brutal police beating in 2004.
Frank Jude Jr. stands in the living room inside his small ranch home in Wauwatosa. A budget surveillance camera watches from a corner of the ceiling. It’s trained on three lawn chairs arranged around a low table. Jude points off in the distance, explaining that there are police detectives “in this house and this house and this house.” His lean frame is covered by a Brewers T-shirt and jeans. The former exotic dancer still works out with weights in his basement or at a nearby gym. During a 90-minute interview, he moves restlessly from room to room, not sitting down once.
What does Frank Jude, victim of a brutal police beating outside a Milwaukee cop’s housewarming party in 2004, have to talk about? These days, it’s the state of his latest legal entanglements, which include a lawsuit by a neighbor and criminal charges of resisting arrest. The latter episode, which comes amid a long line of run-ins with the law, stems from a May 2015 conviction for violating a domestic violence injuction. Less than a month later, on June 5, 2015, when Wauwatosa police went to Jude’s house to arrest him for violating his probation curfew, he says he had a flashback to the 2004 beating by on- and off-duty Milwaukee police, ran out his front door and around the back of his house.
“When the fat cat gets loose,” he says, referring to police, “what does the mouse do? I was looking for shelter.” According to the police report, Jude struggled through several Taser shocks and was only subdued once an officer pepper-sprayed him.
Psychologists have diagnosed Jude as having post-traumatic stress disorder triggered by the 2004 beating as well as the neurological after-effects of the traumatic brain injury he suffered. Since winning a $2 million settlement from the city of Milwaukee in 2012, Jude has spent time in and out of jails, the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison and the secluded home he paid cash for in 2012. Legal representation, along with a $70,000 business deal that went sour, home improvements, occasional partying, and an apartment building he bought and resold have swallowed up much of the settlement. Of the $800,000 Jude received after paying his first round of legal fees and debts, less than $200,000 remains. That’s according to Daniel Storm, the crime novelist and private investigator employed by Jude’s new civil rights lawyer, Kenosha’s Walter Stern.
Stern replaces Monte Weiss of Milwaukee, who quit in December, protesting that Jude had not paid any of his legal bills since December 2014. Weiss had represented Jude in a lawsuit brought against him by his neighbor, Byron Rachow, over a dog bite. On June 1, 2013, Jude’s pitbull, Frankie, escaped into his neighbor’s backyard, where the dog attacked Rachow’s Labrador and clamped down on the man’s thumb. A former Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Deputy, Rachow shot Frankie several times with his old service weapon, killing him in front of Jude.
Rachow is alleging nerve damage to his thumb and asking for thousands to cover medical bills. Jude, in a counter-claim that was later dismissed, accused Rachow of surveilling his backyard with a camera, taping conversations and relaying them to a long list of police and corrections officials. At Jude’s request, a 12-person jury trial has been tentatively scheduled for July.
When a psychologist examined Jude in 2013, she concluded that he suffered from PTSD plus a “personality disorder with paranoid features.” Since then, it’s gotten harder to distinguish between Jude’s paranoia and something more like psychosis.
Last fall, when someone attempted to rob Jude at gunpoint in Milwaukee, he jumped into a passing car that turned out to be filled with undercover cops who flashed a badge, he says. When he jumped back out of the car, it was now moving, and he badly scraped his hands and arms. He insists that police orchestrated the robbery using informants or “little people” and two female detectives who followed behind Jude’s ambulance to cover everyone’s tracks. “I’m not seeing and hearing things,” he says.
In September 2015, Stern filed a notice of claim with the Wauwatosa Police Department, a first step toward bringing a formal lawsuit alleging an improper arrest. Stern and Storm were considering whether Jude should undergo a CAT scan to look for new damage not covered under the original settlement with the city of Milwaukee, and there are other loose strings in Jude’s life.
In February, Storm was hunting for a black Dodge Challenger Jude said he owned but had gone missing. And that very morning, a doctor had examined Jude at the request of his lawyer in the resisting arrest case, Rebecca Coffee, for an insanity defense.
Jude was a couple days from selling his house and said his ex-wife had opposed his attempts to visit their two children in Appleton. His plans called for visiting his mother in Arizona for an undetermined length of time, he said. “I might stay there.”