No plea deal for officer accused in bar beating

Police Review: Abbate should be fired
March 11, 2008 3:18:47 PM PDT
There will be no plea deal for the police officer seen in surveillance video apparently beating a female bartender. Anthony Abbate may now face a trial on charges linked to the attack.

Abbate was in court Tuesday, where lawyers announced negotiations on a plea deal failed. In addition, the city is now recommending that the 12-year veteran be fired for embarrassing the police department.

On the same day Anthony Abbate was expected to plead guilty, the city's police review authority decided the 39-year-old should lose his job, a decision that was approved by Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis.

Abbate nor his attorney would talk about why the plea deal fell through. Prosecutors are not discussing the matter either, except to say they will accept nothing short of significant jail time for Abbate.

Abbate and Karolina Obrycka faced each other Tuesday for the first time since the Chicago cop was seen on video tape beating the 115-pound bartender over a year ago. Obrycka sat 2 feet behind Abbate in a Cook County courtroom.

"He's being so close I was actually right now scared," Obrycka said.

Obrycka and her civil attorney showed up with the expectations that Abbate would plead guilty to several charges, including aggravated battery, but to their surprise, that didn't happen and now this case may go to trial.

"We have no problem with going to trial. And if the case does go to trial, Karolina is more than happy to testify and authenticate the video of what Mr. Abbate did, charges ," said Terry Ekl, Obrycka's lawyer.

The now-infamous video tape shows an allegedly drunk, 250-pound Abbate beating Obrycka after she refused to serve him more alcohol. Abbate was off-duty at the time. It's tape that has been shown over and over. Yet it took the independent Police Review Authority over a year to determine that the 39-year-old police officer should lose his job.

"Mr. Abbate broke the very laws he was sworn to uphold and then misused his position as sworn officer to attempt t cover-up his misconduct," said Illana Rosensweig.

Despite the video tape, Rosensweig says it took a year to fire Abbate because there is a criminal case pending. She says the availability of witnesses changed which delayed the process.

"In that situation, we need to ensure that sour investigation proceeds with all due haste, but at the same time does not interfere with that criminal matter," said Rosensweig.

The review authority's recommendation has been approved by new police superintendent Jody Weis.

"The action was horrific. It flies in the face of every law enforcement officer. It brings great discredit, not only to the Chicago Police Department, but to the entire city," said Supt. Jody Weis, Chicago Police Department.

Weis will present his recommendation for termination to the police board.

Meantime, Abbate returns to court April 30 for a status hearing. There is still a possibility for a deal. If not, this case goes to trial. Abbate is charged with 15 felony counts. He could face up to 5 years in prison.