City of Chicago Caught with its Pants Down…Again?
It’s no secret that Chicago has a certain set of problems. Not even President Obama’s rockstar-power can lift that poor city out of its woes! Even the media claims the loss of the 2016 Olympics is a result of the city’s rampant crime rate. Maybe so.
The City just can’t seem to help itself, though. Maybe it’s the water, or the Lake Michigan air.
In December of 2006, an off-duty Chicago cop, Anthony Abbate, was caught on tape delivering a vicious beating to a female bartender at the Jefferson Tap & Grille.
It started out as a garden variety bar fight—a gang of 6 off-duty cops (one carrying a gun) beating up 4 businessmen playing billiards. The evening ended with now disgraced X-police officer Abbate delivering a brutal “attitude adjustment” to a female bartender who tried to intervene. None of the off-duty cops figured that the bar was equipped with indoor and outdoor >video surveillance. The video shows that Chicago police were summoned twice via the 911 system, and each time a patrol unit arrived, a Sergeant in the gang of 6 went out to meet the responding officers. The video shows them talking, and then the responding officers leaving.
Then in April of this year, an off-duty detective—Joseph Frugoli, 41—allegedly drove his vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. He slammed his car into the back of a stranded vehicle, killing the two occupants of the vehicle in a fiery wreck. Frugoli, stand up guy that he is, is alleged to have walked away from the scene rather than calling for help or offering aid. He is charged with two counts of Reckless Homicide, two counts of Aggravated DUI, and one count of Leaving the Scene.
The problem with Frugoli’s case is that this is alleged to be his third DUI incident in the past five years! In 2005, Frugoli again rear-ended another vehicle on the same road. No field tests were administered. He was cited for failing to reduce speed. The citation was later dropped when the other driver did not show up for court. No information is available why the other driver did not show up for court.
In 2008, Frugoli rear-ended another vehicle—a police cruiser! Two officers were injured. He was off-duty in this case, too. He was cited for failing to yield to a stop sign. That ticket was dropped as well. Two officers who showed up on scene did not think he showed signs of intoxication and did not administer field tests. An internal investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing.
Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, a former FBI agent, claims that Frugoli did not receive professional courtesies in the prior incidents. This time, Frugoli’s actions are little more difficult to sweep under the rug. His blood alcohol content (BAC) is alleged to be .277.
Under Chicago Police Department’s general orders, no police officers can be intoxicated on or off-duty.
Then in September, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, another off-duty cop is alleged to have delivered a Chicago-style beating to a CTA bus driver, who, according to the cop, cut him off while he was riding his bike. And once was not enough. The cop delivered several punches and then left the bus. Immediately he returned and delivered several more punches to the bus driver. He was arrested by two uniformed officers who were on the bus. The bus driver broke his glasses and was taken to the hospital to treat his injuries. Again, a video camera shows the unprovoked nature of the attack.
In another, more recent incident, a noted Chicago DUI police officer, Richard Fiorito has been shown to fake arrests for DUI. So much so, that in March of this year, his superiors ordered him to place a video camera in his patrol vehicle and record each series of field sobriety tests. That video is now the evidence being used against Fiorito in a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Most recently, however, the City can be seen to be either outright lying, or at best, splitting very technical legal hairs. Lawyers for the bartender, Karolina Obrycka, who was beaten by X-officer Anthony Abbate, made a public records request for information related to the statistics cited by Supt. Jody Weis in the Frugoli incident. In that case, Supt. Weis stated that drunken driving among Chicago police officers is not “systematic”, and that only 13 officers were arrested for DUI in 2008, with only 5 involved in auto accidents. Obrycka’s attorneys are seeking more of that data in an effort to show the widespread “culture of tolerance” of police misconduct. The city denied the request, and a federal court ruled against the city. The city then announced that such records “don’t exist”. Obrycka has filed suit in state court, claiming that they do exist because Supt. Weis was obviously reciting data from something.
The City claims that Weis’ statements and the city’s denial are not incompatible. Because Obrycka’s attorneys requested the data in a “compiled statistics” form that the City did not use. Therefore, the data did not exist and the request was denied.
Sidebar: most folks roll their eyes when lawyers argue over split hairs in court. It seems especially repugnant when police do it, especially when they do it to hide their own obvious misconduct. However, most citizens would simply accept this conduct by the police without question.
It appears that the City was less than truthful at the outset, but is now hiding behind a very strained technicality. Public Records laws were enacted to shine disinfecting light on cover-ups and misdeeds, not to mention a variety of other purposes. It is apparent that the City of Chicago is straining here. It leads one to wonder…what else are the dark halls of justice hiding in the Windy City…?