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BGA Backs Appointing Special Prosecutor In Koschman Case

BGA to file amicus brief that supports naming a special prosecutor to probe 2004 death and how authorities handled the ensuing investigation.

By The Better Government Association

December 15, 2011 8:40 AM

CHICAGO, Dec. 15, 2011—On April 25, 2004, a 21-year-old Mount Prospect man named David Koschman was punched in the face on Division Street in Chicago after a night out with friends. He fell back, hit his head and lost consciousness.
 
He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died 10 days later. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide.
 
Authorities say the man who threw that lone punch was Richard J. Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.
 
Vanecko, 29 at the time, was never charged with a crime.
 
Over the past year, serious questions have arisen about the way the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office handled the case. A variety of irregularities surfaced—largely through news reports in the Chicago Sun-Times—including disclosures that:

  • Police and prosecutorial files went missing;
  • Witnesses say police reports misrepresented what they relayed to investigators;
  • Detectives were less than aggressive in pursuing certain leads and interviewing key people, including Vanecko.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011, Northwestern University School of Law’s Roderick MacArthur Justice Center filed a petition with the Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of David Koschman’s mother, Nanci, and other family members, requesting that the presiding judge of the Cook County Criminal Courts, Paul P. Biebel, Jr., appoint a special prosecutor to conduct an "objective, unbiased investigation" into David Koschman’s death—and to determine whether authorities showed favoritism toward Vanecko and otherwise acted improperly so that he did not face criminal charges.
 
The BGA is not party to that petition and is not taking a position on the factual allegations raised in the document.
 
However, the BGA supports the overall goal: that an independent investigator be appointed to take a hard look at this case to determine whether there was misconduct among law enforcement officials, and whether criminal charges are warranted.

Koschman
David Koschman (Photo courtesy Chicago Sun-Times)

To that end, the BGA is preparing an amicus brief that soon will be filed in Cook County Circuit Court. This "friend of the court" brief is intended to show support for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
 
"We’re not demanding that anyone be charged with a crime," said the BGA’s president and CEO, Andy Shaw. "We’re filing this document to make sure David Koschman’s homicide is investigated in an objective, fair way, because we’re not sure that occurred during the initial investigations by Chicago Police and county prosecutors."
 
"There are too many unanswered questions, and too many irregularities in the way those probes were handled," Shaw said. "The public deserves to know whether agencies they trust and pay for with tax dollars failed to do their jobs in this case."
 
"Justice requires an outside investigation, and the Koschman family deserves no less."
 
A copy of the friend-of-the court brief will be posted on the BGA’s website, www.bettergov.org.
 
The Better Government Association is a Chicago-based non-profit, non-partisan watchdog group that works for integrity, transparency and accountability in government by exposing corruption and inefficiency; identifying and advocating effective public policy; and engaging and mobilizing the electorate to achieve authentic and responsible reform.

 
BGA contacts:
Andy Shaw (312) 520-4999
Robert Herguth (312) 821-9030

If you appreciate the work of the BGA, please consider making a donation.

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