Police Abuse

City of Chicago Wants to Vacate Ruling Against Cops' "Code of Silence"

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Two top civil rights attorneys filed a brief to the federal court late Tuesday evening arguing against vacating a recent verdict condemning the City of Chicago Police Department's "code of silence." 

Locke Bowman and Craig Futterman argued strongly against efforts to vacate the recent ruling that blamed the beating of a female bartender by an off-duty officer on the "code of silence" that exists within the force.

A video of the incident caused widespread embarrassment for officers back in 2007. The now infamous tape showed off-duty officer Anthony Abbate beating bartender Karolina Obrycka when she refused to serve the clearly intoxicated officer any more alcohol. According to The Chicago Tribune Abbate had gotten into several other fist fights that evening and was even recorded shouting "Chicago Police Department!" whilst flexing his muscles to the camera. When Chicago police investigated the case they decided Abbate had only committed a misdemeanor offense, not a felony, and his fellow detectives had Obrycka sign statements to that effect. Following the event Abbate and another police partner are said to have made about 150 calls to other cops to help him bolster his story.

It was only when video evidence of the beating was made public by Obrycka's attorneys and shown to Cook County prosecutors that the case was upgraded to a felony charge. The court awarded Obrycka $850,000 from the city, however since the trial she has joined with the city to file a motion requesting the presiding federal court judge toss out the verdict entirely. This is supposedly in return for the city's prompt payment of her awarded money and quick payment of her lawyers' fees. According to The Huffington Post if this motion is granted the city "escapes having to contend with a prior legal case in which its police department's 'code of silence' was asserted to have protected the offending police officer in the case"

Bowman and Futterman, in the recently filed friend-of-the-court brief, argue that "The city should not be permitted to escape a finding that it covered up the misconduct of its officers by allowing it to simply erase that adjudication as if it never occurred, and then go on denying a code of silence." The civil rights attorneys contend that the ruling is an important prompt for reform within a department that has struggled with police misconduct since the 1980s. "If the city is allowed to sweep verdicts such as this one under the rug is will have no incentive to change." Dr. Steven Whitman, in his testimony during the Obrycka case, told the jury that the city of Chicago upheld just 2.7 percent of the excessive-force compaints filed against officers from 1999 through 2004, well below the 6 percent national average. Whitman maintained that the figures were "not just different by chance" and that there "is some kind of real phenomenon that is causing it."

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  1. Nothing to see here. Go about your business!

  2. Look at that piece of shit. If I had a dog that acted half as bad I wouldn’t think twice about putting it the fuck down. And dogs, unlike scum like that, actually serve a purpose.

  3. If the city is allowed to sweep verdicts such as this one under the rug is will have no incentive to change.

    Well, they have the incentive of not continuing to pay out large sums of taxpayer money to litigious victims.

    1. I still think that to change this behavior, all fees to police brutality victims should be paid out of police retirement funds. The change would be quick.

      1. That would be acceptable, as long as those forfeited pension funds are immediately backfilled with replacement taxpayer money. And also that the department would not be required in the process to admit to any wrongdoing.

    2. Well, they have the incentive of not continuing to pay out large sums of taxpayer money to litigious victims.

      That presumes that the wonderful representatives of the citizens of Chicago have a problem with wasting other people’s money.

  4. What? I love the Cone of Silence.

    1. Too bad it isn’t available in soft serve.

      1. Max: Chief, we must use the Cone of Silence if we are to continue this conversation.

        Chief: Max, the Cone of Silence never works.

        Max: Still we must use it.

        [The Cone of Silence lowers over them.]

        Chief: Can you hear me?

        Max: What?

  5. I remember when the local cops took over the bar at this restaurant where I worked. That was some scary shit. They were all drunk and loud, bragging and cheerfully telling stories about choking and clubbing people for fun. Didn’t take long for the non-cop customers to shuffle out. The place was definitely not safe. And who do you call when a bunch of drunk cops are driving away your customers? The cops? What do you think will happen if you tell them to quit down or leave? I finished my shift drink and quietly left out the back door. But not before one really smashed cop complained to his buddies about never having the opportunity to kill anyone. Fucking sociopaths.

    1. Whenever cops let the mask slip, the bragging about beating the shit out of people always comes out. It’s without fail. It’s fucking repulsive, and I’ve never not seen it happen. They go into cop mode. That mode is…creepy as hell.

    2. It’s too bad you didn’t give the braggart an ex-lax Irish Coffee on the house.

      1. I may be a little crazy but I do have a strong sense of self preservation.

    3. one really smashed cop complained to his buddies about never having the opportunity to kill anyone

      In vino veritas.

      1. Exactly. And these people are supposed to have gone through psychiatric exams to weed out sociopaths? I think it’s the opposite. If you have any sense of right and wrong outside the rules given to you by authority, or any shred of a conscience, you will be weeded out (or quit once you discover the true nature of the profession).

        1. They never claimed their psych evals were there to weed out sociopaths. Why would you assume they weren’t using them to make sure the sociopaths were offered academy slots? After all, they’ve admitted their IQ tests are designed to weed out people too smart to be good cops.

          1. People who are too smart to be good police officers probably won’t write nearly as many tickets and citations.

            I personally think the tests are designed to favour those with less pre-frontal cortex inhibition but just better at masking it. Which is not dependent on IQ, by the by.

            Also, see Ron Bailey’s IQ thread. I would be curious if there are any studies linking overall IQ of a given population and the correlation of how laws are enforced and who enforces them.

            I’m of the opinion that the more laws are on the books, the “dumber” (or blindly compliant) the population as a whole gets.

            There’s a reason independent thinkers are often regarded as muckraking outliers and threats to a given organizational structure…

        2. But I read just this morning that what we should really be worried about in Chicago are “part-time police officers who have not gone through the extensive training, who have not had the psychological evaluations, who will be getting out there who feel now that they are stronger, they are badder, they are tougher because they have this nine-shooter on their hip.”

          1. Nine-shooter? What?

            1. It’s an antigun lawmaker. I’m going to assume he doesn’t know shit about shit. Oh, except that last week he “was arrested for allegedly trying to board a commercial airplane with a handgun in his carry-on bag.”

              Yeah, I’m still going to assume he doesn’t know shit about shit.

              1. What if I assume you don’t know shit about shit? What’ll you do then?

                1. I have my tea and just finished my oatmeal so I will be mature enough not to care.

                  1. There’s nothing mature about drinking tea and eating oatmeal. The tea is probably lapsang souchong. God damn you’re immature, nicole. You make NutraSweet look mature.

                    1. I’ll have you know I have a very nice genmaicha right now.

                    2. That’s even worse!

                    3. Genmaicha? Are you some sort of damn weeaboo?

                      Go Ti Kuan Yin or not at all.

                    4. I do like that although right now I don’t have a favorite oolong. Good oolongs are so fucking pricey. Usually I save them for the weekend and go through the whole gongfu bullshit (which is totally worth the…effort…).

                  2. Speaking of tea, nicole, my neighbor here has an exceptional collection of antique samovar that you probably would find really choice; they look similar to these.

                    The ones he owns look like s-o2, s-05, and s-09.

                    1. I was all tentatively like “oooh” but you SFed the link. Show me show me!

                    2. SO cool. I love S-02.

                    3. That’s for morning 😉

                    4. Since they were such pussies that they only had synthohol on the federation ships, I wonder if their tea was also synthetic and lacking in caffeine?

                      I bet on Picard’s ship it was. Kirk, of course, never drank a drop of tea in his life. And nobody cares what Janeway did.

                    5. GAHHH. Bergamot tastes like a headache. Horrible.

                    6. Try Kusmi tea, Epi. No headaches, guaranteed.

                      Kousmichov, the tea equivalent of palatal coitus. -)

                    7. Kusmi Anastasia is delish

                    8. You guys and you goddamn tea-talk is putting a serious fucking damper on my two-minute hate.

                      Jesus.

                    9. Kusmi Anastasia is delish

                      You might appreciate this then. -)))

                      China green and Petrushka are my favourites.

                    10. Kusmi Anastasia is delish

                      My favourites are Petrushka and China Green.

                      You also might appreciate this, nicole.

                    11. Kusmi Anastasia is delish

                      My fave is Petrushka. Green China is also choice.

                      You will no doubt appreciate this.

                    12. So Epi, do you reject bergamot because you hate your own origins?

                    13. So Epi, do you reject bergamot because you hate your own origins?

                      That and he is a greasy, provincial buffoon with a penchant for self-induced migraines. -))))

    4. There is a very old saying in the bar business; cops make the worst bar flies.

  6. Wait, why did the bad cop get awarded $850k from the city?

    1. NM, got the names confused.

    1. **Lights Dunphy Signal**

      I’m fairly sure Dunphy would condemn this guy’s actions. What I’m interested in knowing is how he’d have reacted if some non-cop bystanders had come to this woman’s aid, beating Mr. Abbate like a rented mule before placing him in his own handcuffs. It’s easy for a cop to comdemn acts of police butality; more telling to me is whose side he would comes down on when a citizen successfully resists such an act.

      1. Thing is, it ain’t just the one cop beating this woman, it’s the multitudes involved in the cover up. In the linked article the piece of shit phoned over 150 cops in the days after the incident to get help with this thing and nary a one came forward. Not a fucking one, how’s that for odds.

        1. I would be interested to hear a statistical analysis of that.

          What kind of conclusions can we draw (scientifically!) from the fact every single one of a sample of 150 Chicago cops went along with suppression of evidence, perjury, etc. in connection with a felony.

          1. What kind of conclusions can we draw (scientifically!) from the fact every single one of a sample of 150 Chicago cops went along with suppression of evidence, perjury, etc. in connection with a felony.

            That when a hero in blue wants a fucking drink, you make him a fucking drink, hon.

            OOOH YEAAH!

            *grabs crotch, shakes*

          2. It doesn’t appear that anyone involved in the case is actually alleging that they called the 150 other cops and said “Look, brother, I committed a felony and need your help covering it up.”

            1. That fact was already established in discovery. The PD and the plaintiff are now trying to get that expunged from the record. The PD because they want to keep their record of not having been prosecuted clean and the plaintiff as a sop to them for paying her promptly.

            2. Fair enough. I would be interested to know just what was said in those phone calls.

              Because it wouldn’t have to be nearly that specific to cross the line if a “civilian” did it.

            3. It appears to me that that is exactly what the bartender’s lawyer is accusing. The calls were made then, a cop and a city employee showed up at the bar to try to bribe/intimidate the witness. Not only that but the next day the piece of shit called the bar owner and fucking threatened him with official oppression and bodily harm.

              Dude, there are enough felonies here to get lifetimes of sentences. Yet, there is two misdemeanors and some probation. I posit that many were involved and many more knew, and further that not a goddamn thing was done about it; outside of the taxpayers taking it in the ass.

        2. In the linked article the piece of shit phoned over 150 cops in the days after the incident to get help with this thing and nary a one came forward.

          Not to defend this shit, because really I can’t, but it’s possible that at least some didn’t come forward because they were worried that if they did they might find themselves in a situation where they need to call for backup, which is conveniently slow in arriving (if at all).

          It fucking sucks, but as sarcasmic alludes to above, any decent person with a sense of right and wrong or a shred of conscience probably don’t last long as cops. Yeah, these are the people that are given the authoritah to legally use violence in our society. *shudders*

      2. Condemning the cop’s actions is easy, Karl. Dunphy also has an insufferable habit of genuflecting before his precious union, the keeper of his awesome bennies of which he often prattles.

        Going for, or in this case against, the union interests as well as a city that permits this type of behaviour and the city’s quite blatant support of the statist quo is even more telling.

        The sword of The Code of Silence swings both directions.

        1. Condemning the cop’s actions is easy, Karl.

          True, it’s easier to condemn one cop’s actions than it is to condemn the entire culture that allows for, and then covers for, crimes like Mr. Abbate’s. And I don wonder how he’d feel about settlements being paid out of police retirement funds, union coffers, or officers’ salaries.

          And just for s&g, I wonder what Dunphy would have to say about this oldie but goodie . . .

  7. Until every civil settlement is paid from their retirement funds and their unions are decertified, police officers will run rampant over the American people.

    They don’t need a “code of silence.” They are pretty open when they talk of their actions. Shoot somebody? Say you were in fear. Steal from somebody? Just call it asset forfeiture. Break the law? Flash your badge and tap your gun.

    “Silence? We don’t need no stinkin’ silence.”

    1. Until every civil settlement is paid from their retirement funds and their unions are decertified, police officers will run rampant over the American people.

      You’ll see armed insurrection and revolution before you see officers held accountable for their actions. What you say is a good idea, but there is no way in hell it’d ever happen, ever.

      1. We need anti-cops whose sole duty is to bust cops. Not part of the cops or even government.

        1. Regulatory capture.

          There will always be a group of men who are the last word in violence, and sociopaths will forever fill their ranks.

          Life’s a bitch, then you die.

        2. We need anti-cops whose sole duty is to bust cops. Not part of the cops or even government.

          I’ve thought the same thing: perhaps volunteer citizens, NOT on a government payroll, who’ve never worked in law enforcement. They would have police powers over the police, but absolutely no powers over any other citizens.

          1. They would have police powers over the police, but absolutely no powers over any other citizens

            And their on-the-job death rate would make commercial fishermen wince.

            1. SF is right. There would have to be some anonymity for them.

              My solution would be for victims of police brutality to be able to convene a grand jury with their personal attorney tat could bring charges against officers. And any practicing attorney would be able to prosecute the case if the grand jury said there was reason to take the case to trial.

              You would get some really zealous prosecutions then. At least a lot more zealous than when Assistant DA’s are forced to prosecute their buddies.

            2. Fuck it. I’d do it. My life is too fucking boring.

            3. We need a king who has his own courts whose jurisdiction is solely cops.

              1. We need a king who has his own courts whose jurisdiction is solely cops.

                John, this is generally referred to as, “The Mafia,” to which the leader of the organization commonly is commonly referred as “Kingpin” or “Don”.

                What really stinks is when they give up an antagonistic relationship for a mutually beneficial one becoming two or more wolves for every individual sheep.

                1. Yeah Groovus, the reason why crime organizes is to keep the knuckleheads in line and from screwing up the business. Since the line between cop and criminal is so fine as to be non-existent, the mafia model is probably appropriate.

        3. In the alternate universe where I am President of the US, one of my priorities is to restructure the FBI and the DOJ so that their primary mission is the investigation and prosecution of state and local governments, officials, and cops.

          The key, I think, will be giving performance based solely on the number of pubsec scalps they have on their wall.

          1. Checks, balances, and total interagency hatred.

            1. I’m suspecting that once this took hold, we’d find we were seriously understaffed. Might give us a reason to rehire some of the DEA pukes we laid off right after my inauguration.

            2. It would be very hard. The cops are not stupid. And they can be very charming when they want to be. Power is always seductive. You would get some of the dumb cops. But the smart ones would befriend your agents and coopt them I am afraid.

              1. Agents would be drafted strictly from the multitude of anti-cop bigots right here in the Reason comments. We could staff every agency in the land with zealous corp of anti-officers.

              2. Pay the anti-cops on a bounty system. Encourage them to have a strong distrust of, if not paranoia about, law enforcement.

              3. But the smart ones would befriend your agents and coopt them I am afraid.

                Well, those agents wouldn’t have the scalps to get promoted. Its all about incentives.

                1. “Well, looking over your performance over the past year, you’ve only busted three cops. No one else in the department has busted less than fifty. Unacceptable.”

                  1. There needs to be weighting to the system too. For example, taking down a sergeant could be equivalent to busting ten patrol officers. A captain is worth 20, and a chief is worth 40.

      2. A better idea (IMHO) is to de-monopolize the DAs office and criminal prosecutions. Let anyone prosecute a criminal. That’s how the common law evolved. Combine this with loser pays in ALL cases, except for maybe a 3-5% of cases at the judges discretion (but no more, or it comes out of the judge’s pocket).

    2. Paid from retirement funds? Why puss out?

      Paid by the offending cop himself, and if he runs out of money, then paid out of the retirement funds.

      1. Paid by the offending cop himself, and if he runs out of money, then paid out of the retirement funds proceeds from the sale of his home and other assets.

        Like what would happen to you or me if we brutalized a woman bartender.

    3. No. Every civil settlement should be paid by them personally.

      1. What about when the police department acts to cover up their actions? When they do that, they’re culpable, IMO.

        1. The department coverup would be carried out by individuals, each of whom can and should be sued personally.

          1. One of the little rays of sunshine in my workday is our monthly receipt of a rather nice check from a doctor who tried to skip town on us when he owed us around $120K.

            His big mistake was filing bankruptcy after we caught up to him the first time. Now he’s got a federal magistrate overseeing his repayments.

            I’d love to see these cops garnished for the rest of their lives.

        2. For sure. And every cop individually who did that. That is how it works with corporations.

          1. But if the corporation creates a culture of corruption, they can be held culpable by a court and condemned to cede the cost of the case.

            /Jackie Childs

            1. I know. I am agreeing with you. But the problem is that unlike a corporation, that can go bankrupt and disappear, cities will still need a police department. So at some point you are just punishing the tax payers for their idiot cops.

              1. That’s what we’ve been doing up till now. What we want is for the monies to come directly from the police pensions when/if they the police departments create the culture that leads to the actions or conspires to cover up the malfeasance by their officers.

                If you create a system where cops will feel a financial burden for what dirty cops do, you will see departments conduct thorough and vigorous investigations of cop malfeasance. Until then, what you have now will remain the status quo.

              2. cities will still need a police department.

                Nick and Nora Charles can investigate the murders. They’ll do a better job of solving cases than the police anyway.

      2. Particularly in a case like this, where the initial crime had nothing to do with his duties. He was just a drunken asshat assaulting someone.

  8. You people are so wrong. How in the heck was officer Abbate supposed to know that you can’t beat the shit out of a woman when she says no. I can bet you $100 that was NEVER covered in his training. We need to spend more money on training.

  9. “If the city is allowed to sweep verdicts such as this one under the rug is will have no incentive to change.” Dr. Steven Whitman, in his testimony during the Obrycka case, told the jury that the city of Chicago upheld just 2.7 percent of the excessive-force compaints filed against officers from 1999 through 2004, well below the 6 percent national average.

    The big issue here is that police are always able to settle and avoid the stigma of having civil judgments go against them. That means when cases do go to trial, the departments have a supposedly clean record, even when they have had several settlements for police malfeasance.

    People need to take these cases to trial and then make sure the police are shown as responsible. They then need to publicize that the taxpayers are paying them for what the cops did wrong. Maybe then will the citizens stand up to their departments and hold the officers and departments responsible for their criminal actions.

    1. This will never happen because most people rarely have any interaction with the police beyond traffic tickets, so they really do believe that nonsense about serving and protecting.

      1. That is slowly changing. Thanks to the DUI crusade a lot more otherwise law abiding people are having to deal with cops. I find that a lot of people who you would think love cops have actually grown to hate them over the last few years.

        Cops are still held in way to high of regard, but that is starting to change.

        1. I find that a lot of people who you would think love cops have actually grown to hate them over the last few years.

          **raises hand**

        2. In my experience being around a lot of gun people, that the rise of the armed citizen has turned a good many pro-cop conservatives into anti-authoritarians.

          Many police officers don’t feel that citizens should be armed and will flip out on a law abiding citizen (pulled from car, cuffed, property seized) because he ccws during a routine traffic stop. Or harassment of legal open carriers by police turns attitudes.

          Now you have guys that thought for their whole lives that cops protect their rights getting their rights infringed. It’s a wake up call for your average white law abiding citizen.

          1. Yes Naked. And it shows how arrogant and stupid cops are. They are turning people who should be their biggest defenders into sworn enemies.

            1. They are turning people who should be their biggest defenders into sworn enemies.

              Let’s not go overboard here, John. Those same people that bitch about cops fucking with their CCW rights are the same that cheer on the cops when they shoot some guy with a nickel bag of weed when they call the entire SWAT team to his house on the word of some CI.

              1. You’d be surprised man.

                Even a worm when trod upon will turn…

              2. Looking back on my conversion from conservative to libertarian, my conviction that the war on drugs is a profoundly silly idea came only _after_ I started learning about the real world conduct of police officers.

          2. Many police officers don’t feel that citizens should be armed and will flip out on a law abiding citizen (pulled from car, cuffed, property seized) because he ccws during a routine traffic stop.

            Link? If it’s concealed properly the cop will never know about it unless you tell him. If a person got treated like that for telling the cop they were CCW’ing in a non threatening way, I’d like to see it.

            You don’t want to have a cop seeing your gun be a surprise.

            1. Masood Ayoba (sp?) recommends giving the cop the ccw permit with the D/L, so that they don’t accidentally observe it and go apeshit, not that some won’t anyway.

            2. And just FYI, that was an easy one to link to because Reason covered this back when it happened.

              I believe the officer was fired but the Union got him his job back. Because you can’t keep the workin’ man down and all that.

            3. Perhaps it’s different in PA. In Texas, if you get pulled over by a cop, and you’re carrying a concealed weapon, you have to disclose your CHL along with your DL or ID card. See Governmental Code section 411.205.

              From what I’ve read, the next question invariably is, “Is there a weapon in the car.” After that, he’s going to know.

              It may not even be a cuffing and stuffing. Accounts flourish on TX carry boards of officers showing abysmal weapons handling at traffic stops: sweeping the car with the muzzle of the CHL’s gun, finger’s in trigger guards, etc… None of which is going to enhance the CHL holder’s respect for LE.

              1. I’m follow the belief that forced disclosure laws merely escalate the situation. With modern cops being what they are, it seems a given. New professionalism notwithstanding.

              2. Perhaps it’s different in PA. In Texas, if you get pulled over by a cop, and you’re carrying a concealed weapon, you have to disclose your CHL along with your DL or ID card. See Governmental Code section 411.205.

                That was nulled this year. There is no longer a duty to disclose.

                1. That was nulled this year. There is no longer a duty to disclose.

                  Weird. DPS still lists it in their Concealed Handgun Statute and Related Laws .pdf. That is now unavailable. It wouldn’t surprise me at all that they left up old information and are only now getting around to updating it. In any event good to know.

                  Looking at the Texas Statutes site, it appears the requirement is still on the books, but they removed any penalty for failure to do so in 2009.

            4. In Virginia, the fact that I have a carry permit shows up if my license plate is run. I imagine other jurisdictions do the same thing. I’ve only been pulled over once since I got my permit, and the officer asked if I had a gun with me but just told me not to show it to her when I said I did. I don’t know if the foreknowledge makes it better or worse in terms of their reactions.

        3. I’ve grown to hate them more and more by reading stories like this one and all the cop shoots dog stories that all end the same way: cop gets away with maybe a slap on the wrist, if anything, AND NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS.

          I’ve always been wary of the power and authoritah cops are entrusted with, but there was a time when, like most people, I thought most were good people, or at least of average morality. Slowly but surely that mis-perception on my part has flipped. Now I see that most are assholes if not outright sociopaths and only a few are OK. And that’s about as high a rating as I’m willing to give them. Just “OK”.

          1. Oh, and also most of the comments at Police One have turned me more skeptical. It’s like they don’t realize that there little internet hangout can be visited by “civilians” too. It’s like when they’re drunk in a bar and the mask slips, except on the internet.

  10. Abbate had gotten into several other fist fights that evening and was even recorded shouting “Chicago Police Department!” whilst flexing his muscles to the camera.

    Nice to see how classy Chicago PD officers really are.

    1. Judgingby his double chin, I’m guessing that’s more like “flexing” his “muscles”.

      1. True. Lard doesn’t really flex, does it.

  11. There isn’t any news story here. Now a cop giving some shoes to a homeless man or buying some special needs kid a iPad, now there’s a headline story that the good citizens really need to hear about!

    1. Dude, I’m not sure if they’re accepting applications for Editor-In-Chief for PoliceOne, but you’d be a shoo-in.

  12. Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me dude.

    http://www.GetzAnon.tk

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