Weather Updates

Time to ‘get to bottom’ of whether there was cover-up in bar beating, Emanuel says

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

storyidforme: 38932232
tmspicid: 4149663
fileheaderid: 679991

Updated: November 25, 2012 11:40AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he has no idea whether the Chicago Police Department engaged in a cover-up to conceal the brutal beating that burly former Police Officer Anthony Abbate inflicted on a diminutive barmaid, but it’s time to “get to the bottom” of it and “get justice served.”

Emanuel’s assessment was surprising, considering the fact that attorneys representing the city are in court arguing that there was no cover-up.

“Rather than me expressing a view on that, I think [I would rather say], I have not asked the question of whether they did or didn’t” engage in a cover-up, the mayor said at an unrelated news conference.

“But, I think it’s time that we get to the bottom [of this] and put these types of issues behind us and get justice served.”

Abbate’s brutal, February 2007 beating of barmaid Karolina Obrycka in a Northwest Side bar was captured on a videotape that gave the Chicago Police Department a black eye around the world. The incident hastened the retirement of then-Police Supt. Phil Cline.

Obrycka has accused the Police Department of attempting to spare itself and Abbate the embarrassment by engaging in a cover-up that stretched from the street to police headquarters.

In his opening statement this week, Obrycka’s attorney Terry Ekl charged that the alleged conspiracy included then-Internal Affairs Division chief Deborah Kirby, who is now serving as the Police Department’s chief of international relations.

“There is and was in 2007 a code of silence in the Chicago Police Department,” Ekl told the court. Although Kirby was supposed to be rooting out bad cops, Ekl charged that she “orchestrated a series of events to ensure that Abbate would not be charged with a felony” and acted to ensure “that any misdemeanor case would be dropped.”

Lawyers for Abbate and the city admit Abbate’s actions were inexcusable but deny a cover-up. They argue that Abbate’s eventual felony conviction and firing shows that the system works.

“This case is not about Chicago Police Department policies and procedures — it’s about a guy who got drunk, sang songs, messed with other customers and beat up Karolina Obrycka,” said the city’s attorney, Matthew Hurd.

Hurd insisted that Kirby had pushed for felony charges all along but that it was up to the Cook County state’s attorney to decide whether to do so.

The charges were eventually upgraded to a felony only after the video was released.

The last thing that Emanuel wants is to relive the nightmare caused by the Abbate case, have the ugly video replayed in federal court and have a multimillion dollar judgment result from the barmaid’s lawsuit.

That’s apparently why the mayor, whose corporation counsel was in the courtroom for opening day of the high-profile trial, hesitated before answering the question about the alleged cover-up.

© 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.