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The Dog Ate My Decency – The Case Of Anthony Abbate
I lost my cat to a type of throat cancer last year. Tough thing. It started with rapid-fire cat sneezes, which my wife and I took to be a sinus infection of some type. We gave it a chance to run its course, but the “infection” only got worse, manifesting itself in extreme congestion. The poor cat’s every breath became labored by the time we got him to the vet. After a few diagnostic misfires, one vet finally spotted a lump in the cat’s throat on an x-ray. Not being rich or willing to put 14-year-old cat through the paces of chemo or radiation treatments, we opted to put the old boy on steroids to ease his suffering. A couple months later, after a series of heartbreaking ups and downs, we finally had him put down.
That was a tough thing, and one of the hardest parts of the entire process was hearing the word “cancer” coming from the vet’s lips.
So believe me when I tell you that I am sympathetic to anybody who is experiencing extreme emotions when hearing that same horrible news about the furriest member of your family. It’s a special type of heart-wrenching agony, unique unto itself, and the emotional toll that it took on both me and my wife about floored the two of us. And it all began with hearing that nasty little word. I can’t even remember now how I reacted to the news at that moment.
One thing I didn’t do, I am almost certain, was get black-out drunk and beat the living shit out of a female bartender for not serving me. But then again, I’m not a Chicago police officer.
That wonderful piece of justice was dispensed almost six years ago. Since then Anthony Abbate has served what I am sure was an equally brutal two years of probation (with curfews covering peak bar hours), and lost his badge as a result of a felony conviction for aggravated battery.
Abbate’s co-star in the above film, Karolina Obrycka, is currently in the process of suing the holy dogshit out of the CPD for both the beating and the attempted cover-up that followed. Abbate claims that he was despondent over the news that his dog had cancer, and that he had been on a mission of sorts to get inebriated.
By the way, previously, Abbate had claimed that the beating was self-defense.
Naturally, the incident has tarnished the otherwise sterling reputation of the Chicago Police Department.
I’m not native to Chicago, but I’ve been here long enough to have lived through a few local election cycles. It’s a curious thing. One line that you’ll never hear from a Chicago politician, that seems to be a staple for stumping candidates in other cities, is the old classic, “We have the finest and best trained police force in the entire country.”
Uh, yeah. That’s for other towns.
A line that you are more likely to hear associated with the CPD is “code of silence,” which has been invoked a number of times in the aggregate media discussion of the Abbate case. Counsel for Ms. Obrycka have pointed to an exchange that takes place later in the videotape, in which it is alleged that a pair of Abbate’s fellow officers offer, on the spot, to cover the victim’s medical expenses. This, for those not keeping score, could pretty easily be interpreted as a bribe. It is alleged that these same officers later made the rounds and attempted to intimidate the other patrons of the bar into keeping their mouths shut about the evening’s entertainment.
And what about those shining knights hanging around the lip of the bar as the blows rained down? I think this tells you as much about the culture of fear surrounding the CPD as it does about the character of those men. Are they big quivering pussies for waiting way, way too long to intervene? Of course they are. Look at them. But you might also hesitate to horsecollar a 350-pound cop committing overt violence while yelling “Nobody tells me what to do!” It is a situation that is not altogether conducive to chivalry.
There is also the matter of the duty officers that arrived at the bar to take Ms. Obrycka’s complaint on the evening in question. When the victim gave Officer Peter Masheimer a piece of paper on which she had written out what she believed to be the pronunciation of Abbate’s name, then pointed out the surveillance camera that captured the above video, Masheimer noted neither piece of information in his report. His reason? Masheimer claims he they were omitted because they were “speculative.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Obrycka’s attorney attempted to chase Masheimer down on this response, asking “The victim told you the offender’s last name was Abbate, didn’t she? And you’re telling us you didn’t put it in your report because it was unverified?”
The reasoning of the officer was that the bartender had heard Abbate’s name, and of the existence of the camera, from somebody else, which is where the “speculative” designation originates. This is, of course, hair-splitting at the molecular level. By this logic, I don’t actually know who anybody is unless they introduced themselves to me directly.
The civil case will continue to unfold, but given the CPD’s lack of interest in reaching a settlement on this matter, combined with the slap on the wrist Abbate received in the criminal trial, there is little reason to believe that Obrycka will be looking for any kind of early retirement based on her reward in this case.