Jury deliberations resume in bartender beating civil trial

November 13, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Obrycka is suing Abbate and the city, claiming they tried to cover up the 2007 attack through a police department "code of silence."

There are 11 people on the civil jury, three men and eight women. They began their deliberations last Wednesday and resumed Tuesday at 9 a.m.

This case presents some complicated questions for the jury to answer, because it goes well beyond the obvious that now ex-Chicago cop Abbate beat up a female bartender less than half his size.

The fundamental question for the jury: Is there a "code of silence" in the Chicago Police Department and did it so embolden Abbate that he figured he could smack around Obrycka without facing significant consequences?

After surveillance video of the incident went viral five years ago, Obrycka's attorneys say Abbate and friends made a concerted effort through phone calls and threats to minimize any disciplinary action he might face.

And beyond that, they contend, department higher-ups, particularly in internal affairs -- headed back then by Chief Debra Kirby -- tried to soft-pedal criminal charges against Abbate. Kirby insisted at trial that wasn't true, but there were contradictions over what she claimed and what her subordinates did.

The city contends that Abbate was off-duty, was so drunk that he couldn't remember anything, and it would be absurd to think that someone so intoxicated would act the way he did because he knew a "code of silence" would come to the rescue.

The city argues that it is not liable for the brutish acts of an off-duty cop who was drunk, and furthermore they say, there is no "code of silence" in the police department. To find to the contrary, the jury must conclude that is more probably true than not that a "code of silence" does exist and that the beating was at the root of that.

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