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Former Internal Affairs Boss Denies Coverup Of 2007 Bar Beating

Debra Kirby, former head of the Internal Affairs Division of the Chicago Police Department. (CBS File Photo)

Debra Kirby, former head of the Internal Affairs Division of the Chicago Police Department. (CBS File Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the highest ranking members of the Chicago Police Department took the witness stand Tuesday, and was grilled about her role in an alleged cover-up of the beating of a female bartender at the hands of a drunk Chicago cop in 2007.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports Debra Kiby – who headed up the Police Department’s internal affairs unit in 2007 when off-duty officer Anthony Abbate attacked bartender Karolina Obrycka – took the stand Tuesday at the trial for Obrycka’s lawsuit against Abbate and the department.

Kirby testified she viewed surveillance video of the beating, and wanted to pursue felony charges against Abbate – who has since been fired – as opposed to the misdemeanor charge Abbate initially faced.

Obrycka’s attorney, Terry Ekl, said the evidence shows otherwise.

“This story about her pushing for a felony from the beginning is absolutely not true,” Ekl said.

Ekl went on to grill a sometimes hostile Kirby, who claimed she never told a Cook County assistant state’s attorney the assault was a misdemeanor simple battery.

But later, Police Sgt. Joseph Stehlik told jurors he heard Kirby, his boss, tell the prosecutor just that, right before he typed a misdemeanor complaint for Obrycka to sign.

“That, to me, shows absolutely an attempt at the highest levels in the Chicago Police Department to whitewash this case,” Ekl said.

Obrycka also finished her testimony Tuesday, saying no one ever threatened her against pressing charges. However, she said there was a time she feared all police officers, due to Abbate’s brutal attack.

On Monday, Obrycka testified Abbate “threw her like a rag doll” when she refused to continue serving him drinks, and told him he could not come behind the bar.

Obrycka told the federal jury about the severe back and neck pain she suffered after the beating. She added that she still suffers panic attacks that cause her jaw to lock.

Abbate was found guilty in a criminal case, sentenced to two years’ probation, and fired from the police department.

Obrycka testified that Abbate, allegedly drunk at the time, came behind the bar after she told him to stay away, then beat and kicked her, while shouting nobody tells me what to do.

Abbate has admitted he was drunk when he punched and kicked Obrycka, but claimed he was acting in self-defense.