Chicago police officials would have you think there’s just no such thing as a “code of silence”, that “blue wall” that keeps cops’ transgressions quiet through an unspoken system of secrets. But, this week a jury awarded a woman $850,000 to the contrary, saying that Chicago police Officer Anthony Abbate savagely beat her, in part, because he didn’t think he would get in trouble—because the code of silence, the police brotherhood, would protect him.
The trial lasted 2 ½ weeks and ended in victory for Karolina Obrycka. More than 5 years after the beating took place, she says she hopes she can finally put the case behind her.
The incident happened when Officer Abbate was off duty, drinking at a bar where Obrycka worked. She tried to prevent him from coming behind the bar, and that’s apparently what set him off.
“No one tells me what to do!” surveillance footage caught Abbate saying. He threw her to the ground and pummeled her with his fists. The whole thing was caught on camera, cameras that were installed just a week before the beating happened.
Obrycka’s attorneys said that the beating happened, in part, because Abbate didn’t think he would get in trouble, that the code of silence that exists on the force would protect him from punishment. And it did, for a while.
Obrycka called 911 that night and the officers who responded (who incidentally didn’t even know Abbate) left key information off of their reports. They also didn’t mention the surveillance footage. One bar worker admitted, and later recanted, that Abbate threatened to plant cocaine and charge witnesses if they didn’t hand over the video.
The surveillance video proved crucial in the case. Had it not been for the video proof, it would have been another case of he said, she said, and usually the police win in matters like this.
From the investigating officers to the brass in the department, conflict raged in the aftermath of the beating. At trial, people contradicted each other and themselves, discussing how Abbate was disciplined within the department and how some initially only wanted to charge him with a misdemeanor rather than the felony he has been convicted of. But despite all of the conflicting testimony, the city says there is no code of silence.
Prior to the beating, Abbate could be seen on the surveillance video pounding back shots, flexing his muscles, and harassing other bar patrons. He was also heard yelling “Chicago Police Department!” with drunken, unabashed pride.
Police beatings are rare, but abuses of power are not. Police are often condescending and downright hateful to the people they deal with, particularly the people they want to arrest. When you are charged with a crime, you need someone on your side within the system. Contact us today; whether you are facing drug charges or assault charges, we may be able to help.