Chicago officers plead not guilty to beating four businessmen

By Don Babwin

CHICAGO – Three Chicago police officers pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that they beat up four businessmen in a city bar last December.

Sgt. Jeffrey Planey and officers Paul Powers and Gregory Barnes entered their pleas during a brief hearing in Cook County Circuit Court, said Andy Conklin, a spokesman with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Planey was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, six counts of aggravated battery and five counts of official misconduct; Powers and Barnes each were charged with two counts of aggravated battery, Conklin said.

The three were among a group of six off-duty officers who authorities say were involved in the Dec. 15 incident at the Jefferson Tap and Grille in the city’s West Loop.

In May, the businessmen filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the officers attacked them _ unprovoked _ while they were playing pool. The men claimed they suffered broken bones, injured vertebra and bruises.

The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case, said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the police department.

Lori Lightfoot, an attorney representing Powers, said Monday that her client “looks forward to moving forward and proving his innocence.”

Planey’s attorney, Tom Needham, did not immediately return a phone message Monday. But at the time the officers were charged, Needham said there was evidence that the businessmen were “drunk, belligerent and instigated this incident.”

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office did not know who was representing Barnes.

The incident was one of two videotaped confrontations that led to charges against Chicago police officers. Police have not released the videotape of the Dec. 15 incident. But the other tape that allegedly shows Anthony Abbate, another off-duty officer, beating a female bartender in February, has been shown around the world.

Abbate has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.