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April 04, 2007
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Chicago officer accused in 3rd bar beating

The Associated Press

CHICAGO — For the third time this year, surveillance videotape has surfaced of an off-duty Chicago police officer involved in a bar fight, authorities said.

The latest incident became public one day after Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline announced he would retire early. The department has been struggling with the fallout from the previous tapes after one, showing an off-duty officer attacking a female bartender, appeared worldwide on the Internet and cable news channels.

Prosecutors were reviewing the new tape and hadn't yet decided whether to file charges, said John Gorman, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.

The latest complaint was filed last week -- before Cline's announcement -- by an off-duty police officer visiting from Washington, D.C., Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Bond would not identify the officer involved or talk about details of the video.

Until prosecutors decide what to do, ''we're just not at liberty to discuss it,'' she said.

The only surveillance video to appear public so far showed Anthony Abbate, a 12-year veteran of the force, punching, kicking and throwing a bartender to the floor on Feb. 19 after she reportedly refused to continue serving him drinks, authorities said. Police have faced allegations that someone tried to bribe and then threatened the bartender to keep her from pressing charges in the case. They also have been criticized for waiting a month to arrest Abbate, who initially was charged with a misdemeanor but was later charged with felony aggravated battery.

Six other officers were removed from street duty after they were accused of beating four businessmen in a bar on Dec. 15. They have not been charged in the incident, and the videotape of that confrontation has not been seen by the public.

Cline has said police were called to the bar about the fight but a sergeant who was among the officers involved waved them off.

Cline didn't discuss the tapes when he announced his retirement, though he said it was difficult to leave during ''these times of challenge.''

He had promised to change the way the department responded to allegations of misconduct, including moving faster to get officers accused of misconduct off the street.

Mayor Richard M. Daley has called the beating incidents ''unacceptable'' and said the department moved too slowly to take action. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, head of the Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, urged that future allegations of police misconduct be subject to review by a civilian board.






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