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City’s expert witness in Abbate trial disputes cops improperly cleared of wrongdoing

Off-duty Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate beats up bartender KarolinObryck2007.  |  Video surveillance tape

Off-duty Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate beats up bartender Karolina Obrycka in 2007. | Video surveillance tape

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Updated: December 7, 2012 6:14AM



A key expert witness called by beaten bartender Karolina Obrycka in her lawsuit against the city gave a “superficial and misleading analysis” of how the Chicago Police Department investigates brutality cases, an expert hired by the City of Chicago testified Monday.

As the jury trial drew to a close, Professor Matthew Hickman addressed allegations that off-duty cop Anthony Abbate and the police department conspired to cover up Abbate’s notorious videotaped attack on Obrycka. Hickman — a criminal justice professor at Seattle University — accused a statistics expert hired by Obrycka’s attorneys of “cherry- picking” data and making “apples-to-oranges comparisons” to create the impression that Chicago improperly clears cops of wrongdoing.

He said Obrycka’s expert, Steven Whitman, inappropriately compared the rate of upheld allegations against Chicago cops with the national average.

Hickman, who wrote the national study that Whitman used in his analysis, said Whitman “lacked methodological rigor” in his unfavorable comparison of data from elsewhere with Chicago because different cities count and investigate complaints against police differently.

Under cross-examination by one of Obrycka’s attorneys, Pat Provencale, Hickman conceded that it was “problematic” that Chicago considers an allegation made against five officers a single complaint, then records a “sustained rate” of 100 percent if the complaint is upheld against just one of the five accused.

Hickman was one of three witnesses Monday who bolstered the city’s defense that it follows proper police procedures both generally, and did so after Abbate’s 2007 attack, specifically.

Lt. Dave Naleway, an Internal Affairs officer, backed then-IAD chief Debra Kirby’s contested claim that she pushed for felony charges against Abbate from the get-go.

And Sheri Mecklenburg, the police department’s top lawyer at the time of the attack, said the fact that police met with the Cook County state’s attorney showed they wanted felony charges.

Other witnesses called by Obrycka — and the city — last week gave more confused and troubling accounts of the police response.

Jurors are hear closing arguments in the case Tuesday.



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