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Woman Beaten On Video Sues Cop, Chicago

Attorneys for a bartender allegedly beaten when she refused to serve an off-duty police officer more alcohol, an incident caught on video and viewed around the world, filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the officer and the city of Chicago.

Security cameras captured video of a large man punching and kicking the petite Karolina Obrycka in a Feb. 19 attack that made international headlines.

Obrycka, a 24-year-old Polish immigrant, said Monday she still fears retribution from police. She said she even changed her hair color from blonde to light red to avoid being recognized.

"Somehow that was the point to changing my color hair, so people and maybe the police officers ... wouldn't recognize me, so I wouldn't be so afraid," she said, speaking softly in a slight Polish accent.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Obrycka, bar owner Eva Cepiaszuk and bar manager Martin Kolodziej. It names the officer, the city of Chicago and several other individuals as defendants.

Her alleged attacker, 38-year-old Anthony Abbate, faces aggravated battery, intimidation, official misconduct and other felony charges. An indictment filed last week alleges Abbate, through an intermediary, tried to intimidate witnesses by threatening to plant drugs on bar employees and arrest customers for drunken driving.

Obrycka's civil rights lawsuit claims that damages to the bartender, the bar's owner and a manager amount to at least $1 million, and it accuses Chicago police of systematically covering up misbehavior by its officers for years.

The lawsuit also claims that Obrycka and the other plaintiffs "have suffered, and will in the future continue to suffer injuries ... including extreme emotional distress, and damage to their business and property."

Obrycka's lawyer, Terry Ekl, said Chicago police officers' tendency to turn a blind eye to accusations against fellow officers led to the harm done to the plaintiffs.

"Essentially we are alleging that because of the policies and procedures and customs that have been in effect in the Chicago Police Department for many years, officers such as Abbate feel that they are above the law," said Ekl.

Jenny Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city's law department, said officials at her office had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment. Abbate's attorney, William Fahey, did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press.

Outgoing Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline has said Abbate had "tarnished our image worse than anybody else in the history of the department," and vowed to speed up the process of getting officers accused of misconduct off the street. Soon after the incident, Cline announced he was retiring.

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