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Anthony Abbate Jr. Wed Nov 07 2012
By Julia Gray
Holding up a DVD of the infamous bar beat-down as a reference, the plaintiff's attorney, Pat Provenzale, stated that the city "came this close to walking away from getting one of the biggest black eyes in its history."
During the next two very long hours, Provenzale discussed the case at length against both the City of Chicago and Anthony Abbate, Jr., reiterating how there is allegedly a code of silence ensconced within the police department and how that code was enacted immediately following the attack on Karolina Obrycka by then-police officer Abbate in February 2007. The second part of the suit claims that Obrycka's First Amendment rights were violated when Abbate and his friends allegedly attempted to block her from releasing the video of her attack, which, if released, could damage the reputations of both the police department and Abbate.
As for the case against the city, Provenzale detailed how the city is responsible because it created a "monster" out of Abbate by allegedly ignoring a police department that engages in excessive force knowing the consequences will be nil. Obrycka's attorneys claimed that Abbate was allegedly never worried about what would happen to him after beating up Obrycka because his fellow officers would extend him "professional courtesies." (Sorry folks, it's not as porny as it sounds.)
Phone records, experts, reports, cops, non-cops, former cops, girlfriends, friends, frenemies were all brought up again during the Provenzale's summation and, well, during the city's equally long summation and prosecuting attorney Terry Ekl's
45 minute, er, one hour and 10 minute rebuttal on Wednesday. Oh, and the tape was shown again too as a reminder of what happened just in case the jury forgot.
Barrett Rubens, part of the team of attorneys for the city, brushed off the plaintiff's claims by stating that the city is not responsible simply because it employed Abbate. Rubens reiterated that the Obrycka's attorneys "strung together a series of diversions or 'gotcha' moments." Rubens called the scouring of phone records as a way to develop a cover-up conspiracy a "gotcha moment." She also considered all of the attention to and examination of responding officers Masheimer and Knickrehm's failure to fill in the initial police report completely, and Obrycka's attorneys' subsequent claim that it was a cover-up is another "gotcha moment."
These moments make the city look bad, she said. "The City of Chicago can't win either way."
Rubens said Abbate's mission that evening in February 2007 was to get hammered because of what was going on in his life — his beloved dog dying of cancer and another friend owing him money. There was no cover-up, no innuendo and definitely no conspiracy.
"If these are conspiracies, then they are the worst conspiracies in the world," Rubens said.
Abbate's attorney, Michael Malatesta, hasn't been heard from that much during the trial. No, nothing nefarious happened, it's just that Abbate isn't on trial, see. He's already a convicted felon and is no longer a Chicago police officer. The reason Abbate is in the courtroom is he's being sued over the alleged conspiracy. He's "the catalyst that drives this thing forward," Malatesta said.
Malatesta said he believes that the case against Abbate was not proven. The phone calls between Abbate and his friends/co-workers that went back and forth after the beating are not proof of a conspiracy. Sure, Malatesta said he found what Abbate did to be "revolting," but said the jury should not punish Abbate because of it.
Ekl opened with a bang on Wednesday morning during his rebuttal to the defense's summation.
"I'm not sure I heard the same evidence I heard on the witness stand," Ekl said, facing the jury. Those in the gallery sat up a bit, possibly believing this was going to be a short, heated summation. Perhaps some were thinking, "Great, we'll be done by 10:30 or 11 at the latest."
Not. So. Fast.
It was a heated summation, but not short. Ekl, being the incredibly thorough and articulate attorney that he is, took Ms. Rubens's summation apart line by line. Of course, this action inspired many objections by Rubens, not to mention a couple of seemingly testy sidebars. However, the one piece of evidence that made more sense in Ekl's rebuttal was the number of calls between Abbate and Joseph Boroff — both before the incident and after. Before, there were roughly 10 calls during a 50-day period. After the incident, over a span of five days, 60 calls were made. Something there seems odd.
Ekl was eventually cut off and after going over the jury instructions, the jury was handed the case to chew on for a while.
Deliberations resume next Tuesday, Nov. 13.
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.