Cop in bartender attack guilty of battery

June 2, 2009 (CHICAGO) VIDEO: Cop in bartender attack guilty of battery

A judge handed down that verdict Tuesday shortly after officer Anthony Abbate took the stand Tuesday in his own defense.

Video surveillance tape of the beating was a key piece of evidence at the trial. Abbate's defense attorney had argued that the off-duty officer was acting in self defense when he pushed, punched and kicked the bartender at a bar on Chicago's Northwest Side.

The lead prosecutor in this case borrowed a saying for her closing argument. She said, crime, once exposed, has no refuge but in audacity. That was the prosecution's polite way of saying Abbate's contention that a woman half his size was the real aggresor in this case was a bunch of bunk. The judge agreed that Abbate's actions were way out of line.

Twenty-eight months after an incident seen all around the world, it all came down to one criminal charge against Abbate: aggravated battery, and the verdict, guilty.

Abbate said but a few words Tuesday outside of court after the verdict. Earlier in the afternoon took the stand in his own defense, attempting to make the case that he was not the aggressor. He testified that, yes, he was inebriated and, yes, he disregarded Karolina Obrycka's order not to come behind the bar.

But Abbate testified that he felt physically threatened when the 5'3", 125-pound Obrycka pushed him away from the bar into a wall. Abbate's attorney Peter Hickey asked, "Did you feel endangered when you were body slammed into the wall?" "Yes," Abbate answered.

"Were you going to stand there and let her hurt you some more?" the attorney asked. Abbate said no.

The prosecutors asked,"Is the video just a mirage?" "Did Karolina Obrycka's bruises just magically appear?" Abbate's defense, prosecutor said, defies common sense.

"Did he feel threatened when he threw Obrycka to the floor and continued to punch and kick her?" prosecutors asked. Abbate conceded at that point, "No."

The judge ruled Tuesday afternoon that it is clear from the video that Obrycka used reasonable force and that Abbate's actions were not justifiable, so he is guilty of aggravated battery.

The judge did dismiss two counts of official misconduct, saying Abbate did not show a badge or identify himself as a police officer, and he therefore didn't exploit his official position. Despite the official misconduct charges being dismissed, the police department is moving to fire Abbate, a 12-year veteran. He has been on leave without pay since the incident.

Abbate will be sentenced June 23. Aggravated battery carries a sentence of two to five years, but it is also probationable.

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