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David Griffith has been editor of POLICE Magazine since December 2001. He brings more than 25 years of experience on magazines and newspapers to POLICE. A Maggie award-winning journalist, his byline has appeared on hundreds of articles in POLICE and other national magazines.



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Editor's Notes

Drunk is No Excuse for This

June 05, 2009  |  by - Also by this author

Two years ago a surveillance camera in a Chicago bar. captured one of the most disgusting videos I have ever seen. It's disgusting because of what happens in the video and because of the dishonor it inflicts on all law enforcement officers. Hell, it dishonors humanity.

You know this video. You've seen it before. It shows a 12-year veteran Chicago cop-who was off duty at the time-beating the mess out of a young female bartender.

Here's the tale of the tape: Anthony Abbate, 38, is six-foot, three-inches tall and weighs 250 pounds. The woman he pummeled, Karolina Obrycka, 26, is a foot shorter and weighs 125 pounds.

In the video, Obrycka tries to cut off the alcohol flow to a drunken Abbate. Then Abbate decides to go behind the bar probably to pour his own drinks. Words are exchanged between the two and the bartender tries to shove Abbate out from behind the bar.

What happens next is nothing short of Cro-Magnon behavior by Abbate. He slams Obrycka to the floor and proceeds to punch and kick her. Finally she breaks away and some men get between her and Abbate who, from my observation of the video, is pretty much stumbling drunk.

But being drunk is no excuse for this kind of vicious attack. That's my point of view on this incident, and it was largely the prosecutor's as well.

"It's one of the most brutal and savage attacks that I have seen caught on tape," said prosecutor David Navarro when he announced that Abbate was being charged with aggravated battery.

Obrycka, who emigrated from Poland four years ago and has a 16-month-old boy here, suffered bruises to her head, neck, back, and lower body in the attack.

Abbate waived his right to a jury trial. (Good move, they might have brought a rope.) And he tried to convince the presiding judge that he felt threatened by the shoves from the diminutive female bartender and reacted to end the threat.

During testimony Tuesday, Abbate acknowledged he was drunk during the incident, but said the now 26-year-old 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."

Fleming didn't buy the "threatened by the little woman" argument and he found Abbate guilty. Abbate now faces sentencing later this month and could receive as much as five years or he could just get probation. He has also been suspended pending separation from the Chicago Police Department.

In some ways, Abbate got off easy. At one point he was facing 15 charges, including official misconduct, intimidation, conspiracy, and communicating with a witness. (Immediately after the incident, some of Abbate's friends went back in the bar and tried to pay off the victim.) Judge Fleming dropped all but the battery charge.

Which means Abbate gets to keep his pension because he wasn't convicted of a criminal act under the color of authority. OK. I can go along with that. He worked 12 years on the force, and he didn't beat Obrycka while acting as a cop, so let him keep his pension.

But I hope the judge gives him every minute of five years. There's no excuse for what he did. There wouldn't be if he was a civilian. And in this case, he's not a cop facing crucifixion for protecting himself on the job. He's just a mean drunk who mercilessly beat a young woman for cutting off his bender.

No man should be wrist-slapped for that. And being drunk is no excuse.

But what say you? You are the men and women of law, and you are the judge and jury for this fellow officer. Would you give him five years for pummeling this woman half his size?


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