I was sitting at home in Chicago when I saw the video for the first time. An off-duty officer was caught on surveillance tape beating a female bartender in February of 2007. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! The guy was huge. Anthony Abbate was behind the bar slamming the woman around, throwing her to the ground and punching her over and over in the head. I called a couple friends who are cops here in Chicago to ask if they knew this guy. One friend told me, “He deserves every day he gets behind bars! This gives us such a bad name.”
I knew the attorney, Terry Ekl, who had the tape. I gave him a call and he met me at our Chicago bureau in the morning with his client, the bartender who was beaten, Karolina Obyrcka. I remember thinking that Obyrcka was small, but I was also impressed with the fact that she was able to walk away from the beating she took.
Obyrcka told us her story which you were able to see on AC360° that night and gave us a copy of the surveillance tape. During the interview she says she refused to serve Abbate any more drinks when he became enraged. She says he went behind the bar and started to beat her. Abbate admitted during the trial that he was drunk during the incident, but also says the 5’ 3” bartender was the aggressor in the violent scuffle.
Today, two-and-a-half years later, Obyrcka was in court to hear the sentencing for Abbate. He was found guilty of aggravated battery in the incident, after a judge rejected Abbate’s claim that he was acting in self defense when he threw, punched and kicked Obyrcka. Abbate was offered an opportunity to address the judge before sentencing, but declined. He never offered an apology to the bartender who is more than half his size. He was given his sentence, two years probation, community service, and ordered to take anger management classes. No jail time. None. Abbate must feel like the luckiest man in the world.
Outside the courtroom, Obyrcka said she was disappointed Abbate didn’t get a stiffer penalty, but also disappointed Abbate never said he was sorry. The Chicago Police Department says that Abbate “has been relieved of his police duties and is suspended pending separation.”
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with