CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has asked Illinois State Police to look into the Chicago Police Department’s handling of a homicide case involving a nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley.
In 2004, 21-year-old David Koschman died almost two weeks after he was punched and knocked to the ground on Rush Street during a confrontation with a group of people including Richard J. Vanecko, a nephew of the mayor. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide.
According to a series of reports in the Chicago Sun-Times, police reports indicate Vanecko was the one who threw the punch, but he was never charged with a crime.
Police re-opened the case earlier this year, but closed it again after saying they determined Vanecko acted in self-defense. Detectives reportedly determined Koschman was the aggressor, based on witness accounts.
But those witnesses now say they never told police Koschman was the aggressor.
Alvarez’s office has also declined to press charges, saying there’s not enough evidence to sustain criminal charges against Vanecko. But she’s asked state police to take another look at the CPD investigation.
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As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, Koschman’s mother, Nanci Koschman, is still looking for answers, seven years after her only son’s death.
“I close my eyes sometimes at night and I still him in that hospital bed, laying there, wondering why it happened,” Nanci Koschman said Friday.
It happened seven years ago on Rush Street. Koschman’s son David was out drinking to celebrate his 21st birthday with friends.
At some point the friends had a confrontation with a group of strangers. One of them was Richard J. Vanecko, the nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley.
They got into a fight and, supposedly, my son was mouthing off and there were words exchanged.
Koschman says Vanecko punched her son…causing him to fall and hit his head on the curb. He was hospitalized for a short time, but eventually died.
“The person who hit my son was 6’3”, 230 pounds and my son was 5’5” and 140 pounds. So, it’s hard for me to understand how that person felt threatened by my son,” she said.
At the time, the police wrote in their report that David’s friends said he was the aggressor and could not identify Vanecko as the hitter.
But recently, amid a series of reports in the Chicago Sun-Times, David’s friends have said the police lied; that they did identify Vanecko and they never said David was the aggressor.
Asked if she thinks Vanecko got special treatment because he is related to the mayor, Koschman said, “I don’t know if was a cover-up, but I never really got any information.”
Koschman said she hopes that will change.
Alvarez has asked state police to look into the Chicago Police Department’s handling of the case. CBS Legal Consultant Irv Miller said it’s the best move.
“I think that Anita Alvarez is absolutely correct in referring this over to Illinois State Police, to have a fresh set of eyes look at it, have a clean set of eyes look at it, so there is no appearance of any type of misconduct whatsoever,” Miller said. “If the Illinois (State) Police looks at it and comes to the same conclusion, I think that the family should be happy that justice did prevail.”
Koschman said that, if nothing else, maybe she’ll finally get some answers.
“When I was looking for the picture … I saw his cards that he wrote me when he was five and six years old. ‘Happy Birthday Mom, I love you.’ I’ll never hear those words again.”
Chicago Police declined to talk about the case on Friday. The Illinois Police released a statement saying they are prepared to review the investigation.