By Ryan Haggerty Tribune reporter 10:04 a.m. CDT, April 6, 2012
A Cook County judge is scheduled to decide this afternoon whether to appoint a special prosecutor to look into how Chicago police investigated the 2004 death of David Koschman following a drunken confrontation with a nephew of then-Mayor Richard Daley.
In seeking the special prosecutor, attorneys for Koschman’s family have argued that Chicago police deliberately falsified reports to make it appear Koschman was the aggressor.
But the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, which opposes the appointment, accused Koschman’s attorneys of “Monday morning quarterbacking” and jumping to conclusions about evidence.
BY TIM NOVAK and CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporters December 14, 2011 10:03PM
More than seven years after her 21-year-old son David Koschman died as the result of a punch thrown by a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, Nanci Koschman asked Wednesday for the appointment of a special prosecutor to re-examine the entire case, asserting that criminal charges would have been filed long ago if not for the Daley family connection.
The Mount Prospect woman asked Chief Cook County Criminal Courts Judge Paul Biebel Jr. to name an independent, outside prosecutor to investigate David Koschman’s 2004 death after being punched in the face by Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko and determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Vanecko.
She also asked that the special prosecutor examine the conduct of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office in investigating the death, which at various points was labeled by authorities as a homicide case and a murder but never resulted in any criminal charges.
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org July 19, 2011 2:28PM
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s director of special events resigned her City Hall job while facing the prospect of being fired for refusing to cooperate in the city inspector general’s investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s handling of a homicide case involving Daley’s nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, according to a report Tuesday.
That explosive allegation about former Special Events Director Megan McDonald is included in Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s latest quarterly report.
The names of employees and contractors aren’t included in the report, but sources identified McDonald as the former “high-level manager” in the city Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events who “refused to answer questions” as part of an “IGO investigation relating to an inquiry into a serious crime.”
That was even though McDonald was repeatedly reminded that city employees are compelled to cooperate with investigators from the inspector general’s office, according to the report.
We’ve hit what I call the “FOIA Stone Wall.”
“FOIA” stands for the Freedom of Information Act, one of the most important tools in a reporter’s toolbox when it comes to finding out what government knew and when it knew it. Authorities, by law, are obligated to respond. But in Illinois, despite so-called FOIA reforms, public officials are expert at invoking exceptions, loopholes and strategies for dodging legitimate requests.
Since February, the Sun-Times investigative team, led by reporters Tim Novak and Chris Fusco, has filed more than a dozen FOIA’s of Chicago Police Department, the Cook County State’s Attorneys Office and other agencies.
But the Chicago Police Department is doing everything it can to stall or stop the release of unredacted reports, street files and lineup photos that could perhaps explain why it took the cops a full 25 days after Koschman was hit and 14 days after he was dead to set eyes on Vanecko at Area 3 police headquarters. The police, in all that time, never tried to pick him up.
via Cops dodge questions in David Koschman homicide case – Chicago Sun-Times.
The decision by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office not to charge a nephew of Mayor Daley in the one-punch death of 21-year-old David Koschman in 2004 hung largely on the fact that witnesses couldn’t positively identify the nephew, Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, in a police lineup, according to prosecutors.
State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and the Chicago Police Department have refused to release photographs, though, of that lineup and of a second lineup in which witnesses identified two other men as being there with Vanecko when he threw the punch in a drunken confrontation on Division Street at Dearborn in the early morning hours of April 25, 2004.
Now, the police are asking Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office — where one of the two retired detectives who supervised those lineups now works — to ensure that those pictures, as well as some other records, aren’t made public.
via Police resist release of Vanecko lineup photos in Koschman case – Chicago Sun-Times.
Four friends of David Koschman told detectives earlier this year they’d be willing to take lie-detector tests to back up their recollections that Koschman wasn’t being physically aggressive when he was punched in the face by a nephew of Mayor Daley in a drunken confrontation in 2004 that led to his death.
It’s time for someone to take them up on that, former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis says.
“Some of the witnesses have said, ‘Hey, the stories are different. We did not say this guy [Koschman] was the aggressor . . .’ ” Weis said. “If they’re willing to take polygraphs, that’s kind of a simple way to at least help you get pointed in the right direction.”
In an interview, Weis said he was the one who ordered a new set of detectives to re-examine the evidence in January, after the Chicago Sun-Times asked for documents from the 7-year-old case.
The police formally closed the investigation on March 1, which was Weis’ last day on the job. They concluded that Vanecko shouldn’t be charged because he acted in self-defense when he punched Koschman, 21, in the face about 3:15 a.m. on April 25, 2004. Koschman hit the back of his head on Division Street and died from a brain injury 11 days later.
via Jody Weis: Give Koschman witnesses polygraphs – Chicago Sun-Times.
The key hurdles to filing charges in 2004, according to Yawger:
After punching Koschman, Vanecko ran off with a friend, Craig Denham. Two other Vanecko friends who were there — Kevin McCarthy and his wife, Bridget Higgins McCarthy — initially told the police they didn’t know the two guys who ran away. They didn’t admit they did know them until May 13, 2004, Yawger says — 18 days after Koschman got punched and seven days after he died in a hospital from brain injuries suffered when the back of his head hit the street.
Till then, the police hadn’t been able to identify Vanecko or Denham as being involved, according to Yawger.
via Koschman cop: Daley nephew, friends made charges impossible – Chicago Sun-Times.
Illinois State Police on Friday agreed to review the Chicago Police Department’s investigation of the April 2004 homicide of David Koschman, who died after he was punched in the face by Richard “R.J.” Vanecko, a nephew of Mayor Richard Daley and White House Chief of Staff William Daley.
The state police investigation was requested Thursday by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who said she wanted an outside, independent police agency to probe Koschman’s death in light of witnesses claiming that Chicago police inaccurately portrayed Koschman as the aggressor.
Alvarez said her office couldn’t examine the police inquiry because her staff has been involved in the case, determining there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges against Vanecko.
via ISPD to review Chicago police inquiry into 2004 death – The SouthtownStar.