Weather Updates

Senior Chicago cop denies covering up Abbate bar beating

Deb Kirby Chief Office International Relations for Chicago Police Department answers question. Local Federal agencies involved planning preparatifor NATO Summit

Deb Kirby, Chief, Office of International Relations for the Chicago Police Department answers a question. Local and Federal agencies involved in the planning and preparation for the NATO Summit answer questions regarding security restrictions and transportation plans for the 25th NATO Summit, to be held in Chicago on May 20-21. Officials make themselves available at the 911 Emergency Communications Center on Friday, May 4, 2012. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

storyidforme: 39270174
tmspicid: 10868714
fileheaderid: 4972773

Updated: December 1, 2012 4:42PM

She’s one of Chicago’s top cops — so highly rated that she was one of three finalists to replace former Supt. Jody Weis.

But Debra Kirby’s account of her actions in the aftermath of disgraced officer Anthony Abbate’s notorious videotaped attack on a bartender was directly contradicted in sworn testimony Tuesday in federal court by another officer and an assistant Cook County State’s attorney.

Lawyers for the beaten bartender, Karolina Obrycka, hope the three wildly differing accounts from Kirby, Sgt. Joseph Stehlik and prosecutor Tom Bilyk about a phone call Kirby testified she made three days after the attack will convince a jury that Kirby is a liar who tried to hush up Abbate’s attack.

Kirby — who ran the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division at the time of the beating — testified that she was pushing for felony charges against Abbate when she phoned the state’s attorney’s office on Feb. 19, 2007.

But Stehlik, who said he was with Kirby, listening on speakerphone when she made the call, testified that she was arguing for a misdemeanor charge when she told Bilyk that the attack was a bar fight that “appears to be a simple battery.”

And when Bilyk took the stand, he gave a third version: that the mystery call simply did not happen. “I did not get a call [from Kirby] on Feb. 22,” he testified.

Whether Kirby made the call, and, if so, what she said, could prove crucial in jurors’ determining whether the Police Department conspired to cover up for Abbate. He was not charged with a felony until weeks after the attack, on the day the video was given to the media.

Obrycka’s attorneys allege that Kirby hijacked an investigation assigned to the department’s civilian Office of Professional Standards, and that by secretly filing a misdemeanor charge against Abbate on Feb. 22, her officers undercut any felony charges that might have been filed later. The conflicting accounts reveal Kirby and Stehlik’s desperation, they allege.

But during angry exchanges with Terry Ekl, Obrycka’s attorney, Kirby denied any wrongdoing and testified that the misdemeanor charge would “not have precluded” filing of felony charges.

Bilyk disagreed. He said it was “shocking” that Kirby — who now leads the department’s Bureau of Professional Development — and her internal affairs officers didn’t tell him about the misdemeanor charge. Abbate could have protected himself against a felony under “double jeopardy” rules by quickly pleading guilty to the misdemeanor, or the case might have been thrown out if Obrycka had failed to show up in misdemeanor court, he said.

Obrycka’s attorneys are expected to wrap up their case when the trial continues Wednesday.

© 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.