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updated: 3/24/2014 5:00 PM

Suit alleges officials conspired to cover up truth about Mt. Prospect man's death

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  • Nanci Koschman, speaking after Richard Vanecko pleaded guilty last month, filed a federal lawsuit Monday.

       Nanci Koschman, speaking after Richard Vanecko pleaded guilty last month, filed a federal lawsuit Monday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Richard Vanecko, the nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, is among the more than 30 defendants named Monday in a federal lawsuit.

       Richard Vanecko, the nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, is among the more than 30 defendants named Monday in a federal lawsuit.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • David Koschman

      David Koschman

 
 

The mother of a Mount Prospect man killed in 2004 during an altercation with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew, filed a federal lawsuit Monday morning accusing Chicago police, the Cook County State's Attorney's office and others of conspiring to conduct a sham investigation into his death.

Nanci Koschman's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, seeks unspecified damages from more than 30 defendants, including State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, former Chicago Police superintendents Jody Weis and Phil Cline, 18 former Chicago police officers and Daley nephew Richard Vanecko.

Vanecko, 39, was sentenced to 60 days in jail last month after pleading guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter for causing the death of Koschman's 21-year-old son, David, during an April 2004 fight outside a Rush Street bar. Authorities say Vanecko punched Koschman during the brief confrontation, causing him to fall back and strike his head on the pavement. He died 11 days later.

The case was prosecuted only after a nearly nine-year campaign by Nanci Koschman to bring the circumstances of her son's death to light. A special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case obtained an indictment against Vanecko in December 2012.

According to Koschman's 44-page suit, her efforts were opposed by a concerted campaign by numerous police and Cook County officials to keep Vanecko from facing prosecution.

"All of the actions of the (defendants) ... including manufacturing, altering, suppressing and otherwise fabricating false and misleading evidence, making false public statements about the David Koschman case, deciding, in 2004 and again in 2011 not to charge and prosecute Vanecko, conducting sham investigations, exercising undue influence over the investigations and the decisions made therein, destroying and altering evidence that inculpated Vanecko, and giving false and incomplete statements and testimony in official reports," the suit alleges.

Both the state's attorney's office and city of Chicago declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday.

"We are deeply sympathetic to Mrs. Koschman for the loss of her son and commend the work done by Special Prosecutor Dan Webb and Inspector General Joe Ferguson to investigate every aspect of this case, but unfortunately we cannot comment on the specifics of what is now pending litigation," the city said in a statement.

Koschman attorney G. Flint Taylor said one purpose behind the suit is to determine what role the Daley family played in suppressing the investigation. The former mayor, he said, is a "material witness" whose testimony will be pursued.

"We want to assess the blame to all the actors in this case, not just the police and prosecutors, but Daley family members (who may have been involved," Taylor said. "All of the people involved need to be identified and found liable for violating Mrs. Koschman's rights."

The suit alleges that from the moment police learned Vanecko was a relative of Daley's, the case "became an official cover-up."

Among the allegations in the suit are that police fabricated evidence that make it falsely appear Vanecko struck Koschman in self-defense; skewed a lineup so that witnesses could not identify Vanecko as the man who punched Koschman; lied to Nanci Koschman about the evidence; and made case files disappear.

"This official cover-up was rooted in a concerted and unremitting abuse of power and authority, and it was undertaken ... with the intent or knowledge that it would obstruct the legitimate efforts of (Nanci Koschman) to vindicate David Koschman's killing through judicial redress, or with reckless disregard for same," the suit states.

Despite the allegations against police, Webb determined as part of his investigation that there was not evidence to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in the case.

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