Expert testifies during Abbate trial: Unofficial code of silence 'alive and well'

Tribune reporter

An unofficial code of silence was “alive and well” within the Chicago Police  Department when off-duty cop Anthony Abbate attacked a bartender at a Northwest Side tavern in 2007, a national expert testified today at Abbate’s federal trial.

The testimony by Lou Reiter, who has studied police misconduct for some 20 years, is central to bartender Karolina Obrycka’s lawsuit against the city – that the code of silence contributed to the beating as well as the alleged attempts to downplay or cover-up the attack afterward.

Reiter called the investigation into the beating “generally deficient” and “contrary to police practice,” noting how two investigators were sent to Obrycka’s house with a blank misdemeanor arrest report for her to sign.

He also mentioned remarks from former police Superintendent Jody Weis, who told  “60 Minutes” in 2008 that he was hired in part to “change the culture” of the department.

Scott Jebson, an attorney representing the city against the lawsuit, sought to undermine the testimony by pointing out that Reiter did not  read the 600-page internal police report on the beating itself. Reiter explained that he was not hired to analyze Abbate’s conduct during the beating.

Reiter also testified that Chicago has a well-written set of policies on paper and that he would agree that the vast majority of officers have a “moral compass” that would keep them from committing misconduct.

Obrycka herself could take the witness stand later this afternoon.

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