CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday defended the attempt to set aside the "code of silence" verdict against the city in the Anthony Abbate beating case.
Bartender Karolina Obrycka joined city attorneys this week in filing a motion to set aside the verdict. She would immediately pocket the $850,000 judgment a federal jury imposed on the city last month, and it would remove the case as legal leverage against the city in other suits.
"This agreement, in my view, closes a chapter on something before I was mayor," Emanuel said Tuesday. "It also allows us to protect the city against future lawsuits."
Abbate was an off-duty Chicago cop when he beat Obrycka in a 2007 incident caught on the bar's security video. He was fired from the department and found guilty of the beating, but the city was found culpable as well in last month's federal trial for fostering a "code of silence" in the department that, in effect, encouraged Abbate's behavior.
At the same time, Emanuel stressed — and not for the first time — that it did not minimize Abbate's actions. "Anybody who watched that video is disgusted by what they saw," Emanuel said Tuesday at a news conference trumpeting the city's efforts to attract and retain immigrants. "And you're more incensed because it was a law-enforcement officer who is supposed to uphold the law, not violate it."
Emanuel said he had already ordered Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to make changes in the way the department handles Internal Affairs cases, and those changes have been made.
"I have zero tolerance, Garry McCarthy has zero tolerance, for anybody who's in the Police Department and acts like they're above the law," Emanuel said.
Although Obrycka joined city attorneys in requesting the verdict be vacated, Judge Amy St. Eve still has to sign off on it. A hearing is scheduled Friday in her courtroom at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.
Emanuel declined to comment on Monday's grand jury indictment against Richard J. Vanecko for involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of Mount Prospect teenager David Koschman. Koschman's mother, Nanci, has charged Vanecko received special treatment from police at the time as the nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. A special prosecutor handled the case against Vanecko, and the grand jury is said to be looking into the charges that police did not adequately investigate the case.
"There is an ongoing investigation," Emanuel said. "It would be inappropriate and it would be wrong," he said, to comment.
He did express sympathy for Nanci Koschman's loss.
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