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Anthony Abbate Jr. Tue Oct 23 2012
By Julia Gray
The crux of the Karolina Obrycka's case against the City of Chicago and Anthony Abbate, Jr. revolves around the "code of silence" that allegedly permeates the Chicago Police Department.
Sounds like the stuff great fictional crime novels are made of, right?
According to experts, this code does exist — but it is not unique to law enforcement. It's common in all professions, says Dennis Waller, a police practices consultant and expert witness from Brookfield, WI.
"There is academic research that supports this contention as well as judicial research. There is a tendency within professions to take care of your own," Waller says. Waller, a former police officer, has been a consultant since 1988.
Obrycka's attorneys claim that Abbate's police pals ran interference for him by initially omitting his name from the police report, trying to quash the release of the surveillance tape, and by not letting the powers-that-be know immediately what happened on February 19, 2007 at Jesse's Shortstop Inn. The rub here is Obrycka did let the responding officers know that Abbate was indeed a Chicago police officer.
Waller has been an expert witness on code of silence cases all over the country, but says the code is "glaring in Chicago."
"Jon Burge and the CPD tactical unit that was disbanded after a drug sting by the FBI are just two examples of code of silence cases in Chicago," Waller says, referring to the 2001 case involving a CPD tactical unit stealing cocaine and cash from a South Side housing project. Both garnered national attention and the CPD's top brass did little to investigate or stop this phenomenon. Turns out, little attention will be given to eliminating this code of silence.
"People make a great deal of effort to create plausible deniability," Waller says.
Today was Abbate's second day on the stand. He testified that he remembered pieces of conversations of what he did and didn't do at the bar that night. As for the 13 or so phone calls to a fellow CPD officer that night and the next day, he couldn't recall those either. During his cross examination, Terry Ekl asked if Abbate had speed dial on his phone — possibly with the intention of putting the idea in the jurors' minds that perhaps Abbate wasn't as drunk as he originally said, and that he knew exactly what he had done and was trying to cover his tracks. During this line of questioning, Abbate denied having speed dial on his phone, but during the city's redirect, Abbate said he doesn't remember using it. However, he also reiterated that earlier he told the jury he didn't have speed dial. But wait, there's more: He did know all of the people he called after the incident, but he didn't know all of their phone numbers.
Confused yet? You're not alone.
The jury was once again shown the infamous videotape, this time the focus was on Abbate flexing his "beer muscles," messing with his friends and punching his friend Jimmy in the ribs. However, according to Abbate, he wasn't really punching his friend, he was "pulling his punches" like a movie stuntman does. All of this testimony was said to prove that Abbate was not prancing about, announcing his career choice in a loud, booming voice.
"I was on a mission to get totally inebriated and had a blackout," Abbate said.
Abbate's girlfriend, Linda Burnickas, also testified today. Karolina Obrycka is expected to be on the stand on Wednesday.
Julia Gray is a freelance journalist who has written for the Beachwood Reporter, Time Out Chicago and TheStreet.com. She is also the occasional co-host of the Internet radio show "The Matthew Aaron Show," where she has interviewed folks like humorist Kelly Carlin, actors Timothy Busfield, Craig Bierko, and producer Mark Canton. Feel free to check out her blog.