Federal Jury Finds City of Chicago Responsible for “Code of Silence” in Chicago Police Department

The following, submitted by Joe, was originally posted at

On February 17, 2007, an intoxicated off-duty Chicago police officer, Anthony “Tony” Abbate walked behind the bar of Jesse’s Shortstop Inn and pummeled, punched and stomped 125-pound bartender Karolina Obrycka. Her “crime” was to refuse serving any more liquor to the burly Abbate because he was too drunk.

That unprovoked beating by Abbate led to a precedent-setting finding this November by a federal court jury in Chicago that the city, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Tony Abbate had engaged in a “code of silence” to try and minimize the incident, protect Abbate and prevent justice from being served to Obrycka.

As a local ABC News reporter concluded in February of this year, after US District Judge Amy St. Eve ruled that there was enough evidence and grounds for a trial to proceed, that the case could – and ultimately did – expose “the blue curtain, an understanding between police officers that they should cover for each other unconditionally and that testimony against a fellow cop amounts to a betrayal of their fellow bond. It is the underbelly of a police subculture that is rarely exposed to this day.”

The case that finally came to trial this winter was a civil suit, since Abbate had first been charged with no more than a misdemeanor, but then was eventually convicted of aggravated assault. Yet, he only received two years probation, no jail time. And it is very possible that Abbate might not have been criminally prosecuted at all had a videotape of the entire incident not appeared on YouTube shortly after the brutal beating, forcing the hand of the Chicago Police Department and city to respond to the public outrage.

From the get-go, Judge St. Eve was presented with compelling evidence. This included the initial police report by two officers which omitted mention of a videotape that detailed the brutality, didn’t mention that Abbate was a Chicago police officer, and minimized the violence, which resulted in an initial misdemeanor charge that was dismissed. In addition, a Chicago Streets and Sanitation worker came to the bar later on the evening of the assault and tried to buy Obrycka’s silence. Shortly after the attack, journalists who came to the Grand Street precinct were threatened with arrest in order to keep them from gaining access to Abbate, who worked from that station.

Other details of the “blue curtain” being used to assist Abbate emerged over the course of five years – along with the city’s apparent tolerance for the “code of silence” that appeared to extend into other departments besides the CPD.

Read more…

Court ruling:

  • Glenn

    Oh, my my my. Isn’t this a rather remarkable turn of events. The general public, when shown the facts, comes to the correct conclusion that…the police are inherently a mafia organization?

    Hg common sense, t., and all the other alternate account trolls snitches will be working triple-time spinning this one!

  • Common Sense

    CHICAGO (CN) – A woman who challenged a police code of silence in Chicago cannot vacate the judgment to settle privately with the city and avoid precedent, a federal judge ruled.
    Anthony Abbate Jr., an off-duty Chicago police officer, brutally attacked Karolina Obrycka in 2007, while she was bartending at Jesse’s Shortstop Inn.
    After Abbate drank heavily all night, repeatedly flexed his biceps and yelled “Chicago Police Department,” Obrycka refused to serve Abbate more alcohol. Abbate then went behind the bar and began punching and kicking her, allegedly telling Obrycka that “nobody tells me what to do.”
    Video cameras in the bar caught the entire altercation.
    Police who responded to Obrycka’s 911 call wrote up a police report that omitted several facts, including the existence of the tape or the fact that Abbate was a cop.
    Obrycka said Abbate later tried to intimidate her into giving him the videotape, implying that, otherwise, there would be problems for the bar and its employees. He allegedly said that there would be no case against him without the tape.
    A friend of Abbate’s who worked for the city then went to the bar and offered to pay Obrycka’s medical bills if she did not press charges. Chicago conceded this action was an attempted bribe.
    Eventually the State Attorney’s Office in Cook County charged Abbate with misdemeanor battery. An official with Internal Affairs allegedly told the lawyers that Abbate committed misdemeanor battery during a bar fight.
    Based on what she perceived to be the Chicago police department’s inaction, Obrycka released the videotape to the media in March. Shortly thereafter, Abbate was charged with aggravated battery and convicted in June 2009.
    In a civil complaint against Abbate and the Chicago, Obrycka claimed that city policies, through the conduct of the police officers who allegedly impeded the investigation of her battery, violated due process.
    U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve refused to grant the city summary judgment in February, and a jury awarded Obrycka $850,000.
    Shortly thereafter, the parties entered post-judgment settlement in which the city agreed to forego its right to appeal.
    This deal was conditioned, however, on a joint motion to vacate the judgment. It required the city agreed to pay Obrycka her damages award, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.
    U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve denied the parties’ motion Thursday, although she agreed with Chicago that it is unclear whether the jury based its decision on Obrycka’s evidence of a police code of silence or her evidence that the city does not adequately investigate and/or discipline its officers.
    “Because the basis of the jury’s general verdict is ambiguous and because this case was highly fact specific, the issue preclusion public interest factor weighs in favor of vacatur,” she wrote. “Nevertheless, issues of judicial economy and integrity, along with the public’s interest in the precedential value of the judgment discussed above, outweigh this public interest factor.”
    Three days before the trial began, “when the court asked the city’s counsel one last time if settlement was a possibility based on Plaintiff’s low amount of itemized damages, counsel declined to participate in a settlement conference because the ‘case is a matter of principle.’ Indeed, there is a social value to the judgment, especially because of the constitutional issues involved.”
    St. Eve continued: “Accordingly, the judgment’s precedential value weighs against granting the parties’ motion to vacate the judgment.”

  • Tom

    @Common Sense,

    Did you actually read the article you posted? The woman filed the joint motion to vacate the judgement because she wants to be able to get the $$$ much sooner. Now the city will fight this tooth and nail by appealing this as far as possible which could take a few more years.

    I’m actually glad judge refused to vacate the judgment. Now, because the judgement stands the legal doctrine of collateral estoppel,future litigants will not have re-litigate whether or not there is a “Blue Wall of Silence” in Chicago it’s accepted as fact.

    This will cost the City millions more and be huge black eye for Chicago PD, and deservedly so.

  • Common Sense

    Yes, but sadly most here don’t read anything other than what’s placed in front of them.

  • panopticon_blinder

    @common says: ‘Yes, but sadly most here don’t read anything other than what’s placed in front of them.’

    I says: ‘Granted, but happily, most here that don’t read anything other than what’s placed in front of them don’t really have to, because with a little uncommon sense (yes, the good kind that you more and more rarely see), they can see right through the deception, lies, cheating, thieving and double-standards.’

    There, fixed that for ya!

    Happy New Year Pete, Adam, Kate & all of you who are doing an awesome job in trying to wake up the flock and make some positive changes, wherever they matter most.

  • BluEyeDevil

    You are so smart buddy. Take that cop enablers

  • Yankee Fan

    Did we really need an official judgement to tell us there is a blue wall of silence?

  • Glenn

    @Tom is it collateral estoppel, judicial estoppel, or both? Do you have access to the actual pleadings?

  • Ed D

    Fuck the police! They are the biggest criminal enterprise/gang of thugs in the country. Although they like to portray themselves as honorable and the paragons of integrity, they are notorious liars and wretches.

  • badgeabuse

    ooh my….Shitcago pd….

    Good to see this happen…

  • shawn

    “Did we really need an official judgement to tell us there is a blue wall of silence?”

    Not really, but eyes to see, a brain to read what is going on, and a willingness to see the truth. Cops will cover anything if they think they won’t get in trouble for doing so, and will get in trouble for ratting out another officer.
    And the PD and governments are busy covering themselves from lawsuits. They don’t want to admit to any wrong doing by a cop. The moment you punish someone for an act, is the moment you declare the act was wrong. And that makes the lawsuit easy.

    Silly me, I wouldn’t keep employing people who get me sued.

  • badgeabuse

    It all starts with the unions who go to bat for these POS.

  • hardcase

    when the cops break the law, then there is no law, just a fight for survival. ( billy jack )

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  • frank

    Chicago police are sick KKK terorrist, They target blacks and hispanics with radiation weopons to frame them and to get out of lawsuits, The FBI know all about this they do it to. Tell all your friends they are SICK

  • frank

    They are sick KKK,perps, MOB terorrist they cover for white criminals and frame minoritys all the time

    they control the whole city I found out the media, most lawyers(puppets,civil rights groups and many others are their puppets