Storm of Controversy Surrounds Alleged Chicago Police Brutality Cases
The job of any police officer is to protect and serve the public, and for the most part, police officers do an outstanding job of meeting this incredibly important function in our society. However, when some police officers abuse their power and go way over the line when handling suspects or just dealing with ordinary people, those instances of police brutality become an embarrassing black eye to those many men and women who risk their lives in the line of duty.
This embarrassment has been especially felt most recently in Chicago, a city which would like to accentuate its more positive aspects in its bid to get the 2016 Summer Olympics, but instead has been drawing negative attention for a nationally-shown video depicting an off-duty officer beating a female bartender.
When a female bartender refused to serve a drink to an off-duty police officer at a bar on the Northwest side of the city on February 19th, that officer allegedly took the law into his own hands. A video from a security camera inside Jesse's Shortstop Inn shows 12-year Chicago police officer Anthony G. Abbate kicking, punching and slamming female bartender Karolina Obrycka into the bar, causing her serious personal injury.
The 6-foot, 251-pound Abbate apparently told the 5-foot-4, 115-pound Obrycka that "No one tells me what to do" when she refused to serve him another drink because he appeared drunk. As if this situation couldn't get worse after the gruesome beating, a Chicago Sun-Times story reported that an unidentified individual entered the bar shortly after the incident to bribe the bartender to not press charges. According to the story, a friend of Abbate called the bar a couple days later and warned Obrycka and the bar's owner that police may find drugs in their cars.
Obrycka, who suffered bruises on her arms, shoulders and legs and has also experienced headaches and nausea from the attack, has not yet filed a personal injury lawsuit but is expected to do so. While Abbate has been charged with a felony and is expected to be fired, the manner in which the Chicago Police Department responded to the incident has drawn much criticism. Police did not arrest Abbate for nearly a month and originally charged him with a misdemeanor.
Right around the time that this video became public, the Chicago PD and its Supt. Phil Cline were subject to even more criticism for another video depicting six officers beating up four businessmen at a bar on December 15th. While police were called to the scene, one of the officers involved in the fight waved off the help. While this video has not been released, those six officers were originally just removed from street duty, another decision which had many Chicago residents up in arms.
A week after calling these two videotaped instances extremely embarrassing and saying that the Chicago PD will work faster in handling allegations of Chicago police brutality, Cline resigned from his duties on April 2nd. While Cline was expected to retire sometime at the end of the year, his resignation has been by many as a direct reaction to these videotaped instances of officer brutality.
Even more disconcerting, Cline's resignation came the same day that the investigation into a third-such videotaped instance of Chicago police barroom brutality came to light. While this video has also not been released, another Chicago Sun-Times story indicated that it included images of a Chicago officer fighting in a bar with a Washington, D.C. officer who was in the city for a St. Patrick Day's celebration.
And here's the kicker. Sources in the story say the Chicago officer involved in this March 18th fight was none other than Anthony Abbate's brother, Terry, a 12-year veteran on the force. Terry Abbate currently remains on active duty pending the results of a state Attorney General's investigation.
Police Brutality Updates: Chicago Isn't the Only City Questioning Recent Officer Conduct!
While Chicago has justifiably taken the brunt of criticism recently, the month of March has seen other police brutality developments throughout the United States.
- Just last week, a Florence, Arizona man said that he is going to sue the town for beating and falsely arresting him last year. In a letter announcing his intentions to sue, Travis Armstrong claimed that Officer Cardest James pulled him over on September 9, 2006 and beat him with his fists, nightstick and other weapons. While a Florence Reminder detailed that Armstrong is seeking a $1.25 million personal injury settlement for compensatory and punitive damages, it added that the Florence Police Department supported the officer's actions when it said that Armstrong was verbally abusive to Cardest and refused to offer identification.
The announcement of this Arizona lawsuit comes weeks after the revelation of a personal injury lawsuit seeking at least $15 million for alleged Mississippi police brutality.
- A March 29 thTimes Picayune story detailed that two New Orleans police officers were fired for misconduct and police brutality in separate February incidents while a supervisor was suspended for 100 days for not taking proper disciplinary action. Four-year police veteran Max Johnson was fired after a man complained that Johnson used excessive force on him when investigating suspicious activity.
Three-year veteran Jonathan Brown was fired for excessive force, "lack of truthfulness" and a lack of professionalism when getting into a bar fight while off-duty. Sgt. James Young was inside the bar where the fight occurred and suspended for more than three months for his lack of professionalism and truthfulness.
- On March 1 st, a Colorado man claimed police brutality when officers responded to a domestic squabble between him and his girlfriend. Read more about this alleged Colorado police brutality case and watch the video of the incident as captured by a neighbor.
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