CPD discharges cop in bartender beating

December 15, 2009 8:40:00 PM PST
A Chicago police officer who was caught on surveillance video attacking a female bartender half his size in 2007 has been discharged from the force. Anthony Abbate was removed from the Chicago Police Department on Tuesday. The Chicago Police Board unanimously found Abbate guilty of aggravated battery and other charges from the February 19, 2007 attack at a Northwest Side tavern.

''The board has upheld something our department recommended some time ago,'' said Roderick Drew of Chicago Police Dept.

The board found Abbate guilty of throwing a female bartender to the floor and punching and kicking her repeatedly. He was also found guilty of striking a customer of the bar numerous times earlier in the evening. These incidents were captured by the bar's surveillance video camera.

Read the Board's decision

The firing comes about six months after a judge convicted him of a felony.

It was video seen around the world; an off-duty Chicago cop beating a female bartender. It earned Abbate a criminal felony conviction and some say put the Chicago Police Department in a negative light. And now, nearly three years after the incident, it cost Abbate his job.

"I think the phrase 'tarnishes the badge,' that's a very good phrase. He tarnished the badge of everyone out there trying to make a difference and the job gets exponentially harder when someone does something like that," said Superintendent Jody Weis, Chicago Police.

Superintendent Weis recommended Abbate be fired months ago and his felony conviction made it all but a formality. A police officer cannot have a felony record. But the police board's unanimous vote means even if Abbate's conviction is eventually overturned he would still be out a job.

Terry Ekl, attorney for the victim, bartender Karolina Obrycka, questions why it took so long. He also says without video evidence of the beating. It likely would have been ignored.

"Without this video, Anthony Abbate never would have been charged with a crime, never would have been convicted of anything and he would still be a police officer," said Ekl.

His attorney has said Abbate was a good officer with no history of problems. He's called the beating an isolated incident. His former boss says that's irrelevant.

"When you do something this blatantly stupid it hurts all the hard working officers," said Weis.

Abbate's legal battles are far from over. He still faces a civil suit filed by Karolina Obrycka. That case is expected to go to court late next year.


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