Judge: Police 'Code of Silence' in bar beating

Surveillance video shows Chicago police officer Anthony Abbate beating up a 115-pound female bartender.

February 23, 2012 4:33:25 PM PST
A bartender who was beaten by a Chicago police officer will have her day in court, according to a ruling by a federal judge.

The federal judge's ruling Thursday in Chicago gives credence to what is known as "the blue curtain," an understanding between police officers that they should cover for each other unconditionally and that testimony against a fellow cop amounts to betrayal of their bond. It is the underbelly of a police subculture that is rarely exposed to the light of day. Read Judge St. Eve's Ruling

Five years ago, an off-duty and drunk Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate Jr. went off on the 125-pound bartender who refused to serve him any more alcohol. Video of the barroom attack went viral on the internet.

Abbate was convicted of aggravated battery, sentenced to two years probation for the brutal attack and thrown off the police force.

The victim, Karolina Obrycka, filed a federal lawsuit against Officer Abbate and the City of Chicago. Obrycka claimed that after being beaten by Abbate she was also victimized by a police code of silence that insulated Abbate.

City attorneys moved to have the suit thrown out, but on Thursday, Judge Amy St. Eve ruled the civil case may move forward.

In the ruling, Judge St. Eve cites numerous pieces of evidence that a code of silence exists within the Chicago Police Department; including Abbate's phone calls to other officers and detectives after the incident to enlist their help in covering up his misconduct.

According to the judge, "there is evidence in the record that Abbate's conduct triggered the code of silence...a reasonable jury could infer that these numerous telephone calls...constituted an effort to protect Abbate from police brutality allegations or to cover-up Abbate's misconduct."

While punching and kicking the tiny bartender who had refused his drink order, Officer Abbate said something which characterized the blue curtain he would later try to pull over his misdeed. Abbate said, "Nobody tells me what to do."