Anthony Abbate, the hulking ex-Chicago police officer who was convicted in 2009 of beating a female bartender at a Portage Park bar, testified in a civil trial Tuesday he never enlisted his colleagues to cover up the beating or the related surveillance video.
Officer Peter Masheimer, who responded to the incident, was pressed by attorneys on missing details in his report. Masheimer told the jury he left "the alleged offender's name" and information about the security camera out of the report because it was "speculation and assumption," the Tribune writes.
Abbate, who was fired by the city after his aggravated battery conviction in 2009, told jurors he didn't remember attacking Karolina Obrycka, who surveillance tapes show was repeatedly punched and kicked by Abbate in 2007. Rather, Abbate testified he was on a mission "to get totally inebriated" after learning his dog had cancer, NBC Chicago reports.
According to testimony reported by WLS Radio, Abbate said he "blacked out" the night of the attack and didn't believe his girlfriend when she told him he was being investigated for attacking the bartender.
In Obrycka's lawsuit against Abbate and the city, she insists police officers and higher-ups tried to downplay Abbate's attack on her as part of an unofficial "code of silence" that pervades CPD culture. NBC Chicago reports the lawsuit seeks damages for pain and distress suffered as a result of the alleged cover-up.
In court on Tuesday, Obrycka's lawyers hammed the defense on charges Abbate and his friends tried to intimidate and threaten Obrycka into backing off charges and suppressing the video. Abbate testified to "drunk dialing" his friends and colleagues after beating the 5'3" bartender, ABC Chicago reports.
Along with Abbate and Masheimer, Abbate's long-time girlfriend Linda Burnickas was also called on to testify, telling the court she agreed to call Obrycka to "try to calm her down," later chiding the bartender for serving Abbate while he was drunk.
Despite Abbate's earlier conviction, Obrycka's lawsuit isn't necessarily a slam-dunk win: As NBC Chicago notes, since Abbate was off duty during the attack, in order to prevail, Obrycka's attorneys must convince jurors that the unwritten "code of slience" exists, is sanctioned by the city and that it led to the beating and an attempted cover-up.
The trial started Monday in Chicago and is expected to last three weeks.