The following, submitted by Joe, was originally posted at Truth-Out.org.
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.
Court ruling: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/12/24/obrycka.pdf