Top 9 Of '09 - No. 9: Abbate Case Resolved
By Marcus Gilmer in Miscellaneous on Dec 28, 2009 5:00PM
Today through Wednesday, we're counting down the top 9 stories of 2009 according to the Chicagoist staff.
Given how much happened this year, it may seem strange that something that initially happened in 2007 would make this year's list, but 2009 saw the Anthony Abbate case finally headed to trial and reached its resolution. The video of the beating of bartender Karolina Obrycka by off-duty Chicago Police officer Anthony Abbate was shown around the world and was the highest profile incident (of a few) involving Chicago Police officers. Besides the fact these few incidents over-shadowed the hard day-in, day-out work by an increasingly under-funded and under-staffed police department, the incident also led to the resignation of Chicago Police Supt. Philip Cline (and to the eventual hiring of current Supt. Jody Weis).
After several delays, the trial finally got underway in June, almost two-and-a-half years after the incident with Abbate facing 15 felony counts of aggravated battery in a public place, communication with a witness, intimidation, conspiracy and official misconduct which could add up to five years in jail. Abbate waived his right to a jury trial and instead opted for a bench trial. Abbate's attorney Peter Hickey then caused a stir by playing the self-defense card, saying in court, “We expect to show Karolina went after our client. He didn’t go after Karolina, she grabbed him and tossed him around like a rag doll.” Eventually, the judge dismissed most charges against Abbate but found him guilty on one count of aggravated battery.
But more controversy followed when Abbate was sentenced to two years probation, 130 hours of community service, an enforced curfew, and anger management, avoiding any jail time. The case's high profile had people calling for a tougher sentence, but as The Reader's Whet Moser pointed out at the time, the probation sentence wasn't all that far off from other aggravated battery cases. Finally, just a few weeks ago, the Abbate case finally came to a close when the Chicago Police Board held its hearing on Abbate and voted unanimously to fired Abbate, who had been suspended without pay since the incident.