Video: Bartender beating in Chicago suburb

updated 5/16/2007 4:26:00 PM ET 2007-05-16T20:26:00

A police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to beating a female bartender, and to threatening to arrest bar employees in a failed attempt to suppress a video of the attack that has been viewed around the world.

In a brief hearing, Anthony Abbate’s attorney entered not guilty pleas to all 15 felony counts of aggravated battery, official misconduct, intimidation, conspiracy and communicating with a witness.

“He’s pleading not guilty because he is not guilty,” Peter Hickey said after the hearing. “And we expect at the end, the conclusion of the trial, that that’s what the outcome will be.”

The charges stem from an alleged beating Feb. 19 at a tavern on Chicago’s northwest side that occurred after bartender Karolina Obrycka apparently refused to serve the off-duty officer any more drinks.

Incident caught in tape
Videotape from a surveillance camera in the tavern shows a man police say is the 250-pound Abbate punching, beating and throwing the 115-pound Obrycka to the floor.

The video was broadcast repeatedly, embarrassing the city and prompting criticism of the police department because Abbate originally faced only a misdemeanor until the footage became public.

The indictment alleges that Abbate, using a woman as an intermediary, threatened to plant drugs on bar employees and arrest customers for drunken driving if the video was turned over to authorities.

Abbate, a 12-year department veteran, has not commented on the charges and declined to comment Wednesday.

More officers charged in attacks
Three other officers were scheduled to appear in the same courthouse Wednesday on charges stemming from another alleged bar fight. The officers, charged with aggravated battery, are accused of beating up four businessmen at a Chicago bar in December.

In a federal lawsuit filed this month, the businessmen claim the off-duty officers attacked them while they were playing pool. They contend they suffered broken ribs, broken facial bones, injured vertebrae and bruises, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

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