CHICAGO (AP) -- A hulking Chicago police officer who claimed he pummeled a female bartender half his size because he thought he was in danger was found guilty Tuesday of aggravated battery.
Judge John Fleming rejected Anthony Abbate's claim that he acted in self defense when he threw, punched and kicked Karolina Obrycka as she tended bar in February 2007 in an attack caught on a tavern security tape that was played around the world.
Abbate, 40, faces probation to up to five years in prison when he is sentenced June 23. He remained free Tuesday after Fleming denied a request to revoke bond.
Abbate's conviction is the latest in yet another ugly chapter for a Chicago Police Department that's been plagued by allegations of brutality and bad behavior.
The video footage of a drunken, 250-pound Abbate punching and kicking the 125-pound Obrycka circulated widely online and played incessantly on newscasts as another example of misconduct by Chicago police. During the controversy, then-Superintendent Phil Cline suddenly announced his retirement, and Jody Weis was appointed with an order to clean up the department's image.
Abbate waived his right to a jury trial. He was initially charged with 15 counts that included official misconduct, intimidation, conspiracy and communicating with a witness. All but the battery charge were dropped before the trial's end.
During testimony Tuesday, Abbate acknowledged he was drunk during the incident, but said the now 26-year-old bartender pushed him first as she tried to remove him from behind the bar.
Abbate said he "didn't want to receive another injury, I threw her to the ground to get her off of me."
Obrycka pushed him into a wall, causing him to hit his head as she tried to move him, he testified. He said he didn't know he wasn't supposed to be behind the bar but admitted Obrycka told him several times to get out and stay out.
The judge said Obrycka was justified in using force to defend the bar's property, and prosecutors continually mocked the notion that Abbate was the victim.
"Big, bad Karolina threatened defenseless Tony Abbate," said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Friedman. "He was the aggressor."
In dropping the official misconduct charges, Fleming said there was no evidence Abbate abused his position as a police officer, noting that even Obrycka testified Abbate never showed his badge or identified himself as an officer.
Abbate has been "suspended pending separation" and relieved of his duties and pay, said Chicago police spokesman Roderick Drew. Weis has said he wants Abbate fired.
Watch the security camera footage of the beating: