05/17/2007

Chicago officer pleads not guilty to videotaped assault

By Associated Press
Chicago cop in video attack allegedly tried to bribe, threaten woman following beating

CHICAGO — A police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to beating a female bartender, and to threatening to arrest bar employees in a failed attempt to suppress a video of the attack that has been viewed around the world. 
 


Bartender Karolina Obrycka, above, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago and the Chicago police officer accused of beating her at a tavern. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

In a brief hearing, Anthony Abbate’s attorney entered not guilty pleas to all 15 felony counts of aggravated battery, official misconduct, intimidation, conspiracy and communicating with a witness. 
 
"He’s pleading not guilty because he is not guilty," Peter Hickey said after the hearing. "And we expect at the end, the conclusion of the trial, that that’s what the outcome will be." 
 
The charges stem from an alleged beating Feb. 19 at a tavern on Chicago’s northwest side that occurred after bartender Karolina Obrycka apparently refused to serve the off-duty officer any more drinks. 
 
Videotape from a surveillance camera in the tavern shows a man police say is the 250-pound Abbate punching, beating and throwing the 115-pound Obrycka to the floor. 
 
The video was broadcast repeatedly, embarrassing the city and prompting criticism of the police department because Abbate originally faced only a misdemeanor until the footage became public. 
 
The indictment alleges that Abbate, using a woman as an intermediary, threatened to plant drugs on bar employees and arrest customers for drunken driving if the video was turned over to authorities. 
 
Abbate, a 12-year department veteran, has not commented on the charges and declined to comment Wednesday. 
 
Three other officers appeared in the same courthouse Wednesday on charges stemming from another alleged bar fight. The officers, charged Tuesday with aggravated battery, are accused of beating up four businessmen at a Chicago bar in December. 
 
On Wednesday, Cook County Judge Raymond Myles set bond at $40,000 each for Officers Paul Powers, 25, and Gregory Barnes, 39, and at $60,000 for Sgt. Jeffery Planey, 33, who also has been charged with obstruction of justice and official misconduct. The next hearing for the men was scheduled for June 8. 
 
Defense attorneys in the case have said the charges are unwarranted. 
 
In a federal lawsuit filed this month, the businessmen claim the off-duty officers attacked them while they were playing pool. They contend they suffered broken ribs, broken facial bones, injured vertebrae and bruises, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
 
   

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