A federal jury in Chicago has awarded $850,000 to a female bartender whose 2007 beating by a police officer was caught on security cameras. Her attorneys will collect the money from the city, they said after the verdict.
Anthony Abbate was convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to probation in 2009 for throwing Karolina Obrycka against a well at Jesse’s Shortstop Inn on the Northwest Side of Chicago. He then repeatedly punched and kicked her because she refused to serve him more alcohol. A video of the attack was posted online and quickly went viral.
Obrycka’s lawyers said they released the video to the media because they were fearful the department would not discipline Abbate. They said he acted with impunity because he was unafraid of the consequences.
The attorneys argued that a “code of silence” among police officers and their superiors spurred Abbate’s attack and protected him until the video went public. Abbate is twice Obrycka’s size, and Obrycka’s attorney Terry Eki warned the eight-woman, three-man jury that the footage of the attack was “graphic and brutal.”
Abbate was off-duty at the time, and the jury held him and the city responsible for the beating.
City attorneys said Abbate’s actions were a result of his being too drunk and that he was too intoxicated to believe the “blue wall of silence” would protect him.
The video of the attack contributed to the resignation of then-Superintendent Philip Cline and marked one of the most embarrassing chapters in recent Chicago Police Department history.
Obrycka was speechless when the verdict came back after two days of deliberations.
“I am very happy justice was served,” she said. “It’s finally over.”