Weather Updates

Barmaid beaten by Abbate testifies of panic attacks at former cop’s civil trial

See the infamous video from the bar

Get the link to the security-camera footage of the attack on Karolina Obrycka at

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: December 1, 2012 4:22PM

The bartender beaten by an off-duty Chicago cop in a notorious viral video testified Monday that she has suffered from panic attacks ever since.

Karolina Obrycka, 30, said she has been taken to hospital by ambulance after fainting on multiple occasions since disgraced Officer Anthony Abbate attacked her on Feb. 19, 2007.

“I feel handicapped,” she said, describing the panic attacks as leaving her breathless, unable to speak and numb and cramped all over. “It’s very painful.”

Obrycka’s testimony came in the second week of a federal civil trial into her allegations that Abbate and the Chicago Police Department conspired in a coverup — a case that could cost taxpayers millions if a jury agrees.

Her testimony followed evidence from psychotherapist Dr. Janet Robinson that Obrycka suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had problems in her marriage as a result of Abbate’s assault.

Facing the jury with a steely gaze, Obrycka testified that as she cowered beneath Abbate’s punches and kicks at Jesse’s Shortstop Inn, “I was thinking if I was ever going to see my son again.”

She said she was in pain for weeks but did not go to the hospital the night of the attack because, “My parents told me, ‘If you’re not bleeding, you’re OK.” She was so afraid of reprisals from Abbate and his friends that she quit her job, she said.

After the attack, she testified, Patti Chiriboga — a bartender who was Abbate’s pal — told her that Abbate and another cop threatened to plant drugs on bar staff unless she dropped the charges.

When Abbate wasn’t arrested for weeks, Obrycka agreed to release the video of the attack to the media, she said. “I was scared . . . that he’s a police officer and that nothing further is going to happen that everything is going to be covered up.”

Earlier Monday, Lou Reiter, a former internal affairs officer in Los Angeles who testifies as an expert in police-misconduct cases nationwide, testified that “the code of silence is alive and well in the Chicago Police Department.” Officers fear being ostracized if they snitch on a fellow cop, he said.

Under cross-examination from Chicago corporation counsel Scott Jebson, Reiter agreed that Chicago had good written policies for dealing with bad cops, but argued that those policies are not carried out. He admitted he hadn’t reviewed CPD’s internal review of Abbate.

Evidence shown to the jury last week revealed that two officers assigned to investigate the attack did not include in their report Abbate’s name, that he was a cop, or that there was video of the attack, even though they were told those details within an hour of the attack.

Obrycka’s testimony is was expected to continue when the trial resumes Tuesday.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.