06/03/2009

Chicago officer convicted of battery on bartender

Associated Press

CHICAGO — A Chicago police officer who claimed he pummeled a female bartender half his size because he thought he was in danger was found guilty Tuesday of aggravated battery.

Judge John Fleming rejected Anthony Abbate's claim that he acted in self defense when he threw, punched and kicked Karolina Obrycka as she tended bar in February 2007 in an attack caught on a tavern security tape. The altercation happened after she refused to serve him more drinks.

Abbate, 40, faces probation to up to five years in prison when he is sentenced June 23. He remained free Tuesday after Fleming denied a request to revoke bond.

The video footage of a drunken, 250-pound Abbate punching and kicking the 125-pound Obrycka circulated widely as another example of misconduct by Chicago police. During the controversy, then-Superintendent Phil Cline suddenly announced his retirement, and Jody Weis was appointed with an order to clean up the department's image.

Testifying Tuesday, Abbate acknowledged he was drunk, but said the bartender pushed him first as she tried to remove him from behind the bar.

Abbate said he "didn't want to receive another injury, I threw her to the ground to get her off of me."

Two charges of official misconduct were dismissed by the judge, who said there was no evidence Abbate abused his position as a police officer, noting that Obrycka testified Abbate never identified himself as an officer.

Abbate has been "suspended pending separation" and relieved of his duties and pay, said Chicago police spokesman Roderick Drew. Weis has said he wants Abbate fired.

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