Karolina Obrycka’s lawyer says officer is “monster that the City of Chicago created”
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 6, 2012 7:32PM
Karolina Obrycka at Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn in case of Federal Civil Lawsuit trial with former Chicago Police Anthony Abbate, Monday, October 22, 2012. I John H. White~Sun-Times
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:33AM
Calling disgraced cop Anthony Abbate “the monster that the City of Chicago created,” beaten bartender Karolina Obrycka’s lawyer Tuesday urged a federal jury to deliver a rebuke against police brutality by awarding damages to Obrycka.
But lawyers for the city countered that it should not pay for Abbate’s notorious off-duty attack “simply because it employed” him, saying Abbate was “just another drunk, acting stupid.”
And Abbate’s own attorney argued that Abbate shouldn’t give Obrycka a single cent because there’s nothing in Obrycka’s lawsuit that requires compensation for the beating on Feb. 19, 2007.
Closing arguments in the civil trial focused on the key legal issues the jury must resolve in Obrycka’s separate allegations against Abbate and the city. Her case against the city hinges on whether the Chicago Police Department had a custom of inadequately investigating and disciplining its officers or a police code of silence, and, if so, whether that was a “moving force” that caused Abbate’s off-duty attack.
Her case against Abbate alleges that he and his pals acted in a conspiracy to deny her from sharing the video of the attack that ultimately went viral, giving the police department a public black eye.
Arguing for Obrycka to receive “fair and reasonable” compensation from both Abbate and the city — but declining to name an appropriate dollar amount — attorney Pat Provenzale said the attack and the city’s handling of it “changed who [Obrycka] is.”
He said evidence in the case showed that the code of silence exists, citing statistics that he said show Chicago sustains a below-average number of allegations against cops. He also pointed to wildly conflicting police testimony about the department’s internal probe of Abbate and the actions of two officers who responded to the attack at Jesse’s Shortstop Inn. In their report, those officers did not include Abbate’s name; that he was a police officer, or that there was a video of the incident — even though they were told all three facts soon after the attack, evidence showed.
Taken together, those and other factors create a climate that “leads to officers like Anthony Abbate thinking they can act with impunity,” he said, describing the police culture as a “direct cause” of Abbate’s attack.
But arguing for the city, Barrett Rubens said what happened after the attack had nothing to do with what caused the assault, saying Obrycka’s attorneys “strung together a series of ‘gotcha’ moments” to distract jurors and “dirty up the city.”
She noted that Abbate was eventually fired and convicted of a felony and that the two officers who left Abbate’s details off their report were suspended for 30 days. She characterized the conflicting accounts of the Abbate probe as evidence of “bureaucracy, not conspiracy.” And she cautioned jurors not to act out of sympathy towards Obrycka simply because the city was a “nameless, faceless defendant with deep pockets.”
Abbate’s attorney, Michael Malatesta, also acknowledged that Obrycka was a blameless victim and that it was “easy to look at Tony Abbate and say that he is the villain.” But Malatesta said that “as odd as it seems” the lawsuit deals only with an alleged conspiracy to cover up the video of the attack, and not the attack itself, urging jurors not to punish Abbate.
Jurors are to begin their deliberations Wednesday.