Government Law

Federal judge says mom sued too late accusing Chicago officials of cover-up in son's death


It wasn’t until a report was issued earlier this year by a top Chicago law firm at the conclusion of an unusual court-driven investigation that Nanci Koschman decided to sue city police and Cook County prosecutors over the way her son’s death investigation was handled.

But that litigation was filed years too late, a federal judge in Chicago says. Apparently ruling from the bench on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said Nanci Koschman missed the statute of limitations for a civil rights lawsuit in federal court but could still potentially bring a state-court action over her son’s death in 2004, according to the Chicago Tribune, NBC Chicago and WLS.

David Koschman, 21, died within two weeks as a result of a single punch thrown by R.J. Vanecko, a nephew of then-mayor Richard M. Daley, on a street in an area of Chicago known for its bars and night life. No criminal case was brought against Vanecko by Chicago authorities and Koschman’s relatives eventually filed a civil suit in Cook County Circuit Court to get Dan K. Webb appointed as a special prosecutor. He formerly served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and is currently chairman of Winston & Strawn.

Webb’s appointment resulted in a grand jury indictment, an involuntary manslaughter plea by Vanecko earlier this year and a report by Webb at the same time. It found Daley and his officials and family did not attempt to exert influence on city police and county prosecutors.

However, the report portrayed police and prosecutors as hesitant and noted issues such as lost files and a 2012 interview by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez with WLS radio, as the slaying was still in an investigative posture. She “commented on the strength of the case,” Webb wrote, and said a lack of witness identifications during police lineups might constitute a “fatal flaw.”

Nanci Koschman’s federal suit named 25 defendants including Alvarez, her predecessor, the City of Chicago and Cook County, two former police superintendents and other police officials. Daley was not among the defendants.

It contended police fabricated evidence and conspired with prosecutors to protect Daley’s “political dynasty,” falsely making it appear as if David Koschman, who was nearly a foot shorter and 100 pounds lighter than Vanecko, was the aggressor, the Tribune reports.

Nanci Koschman reportedly plans either to appeal Pallmeyer’s decision or file another lawsuit in state court.

“The silver lining is that the judge condemned the conduct of the state’s attorney’s office and the police department in no uncertain terms,” attorney, G. Flint Taylor, who represents the mother, told the newspaper.

The articles discussing the dismissal of Koschman’s suit don’t include any comment from the defendants.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Law firm report: Ex-Mayor Daley didn’t influence initial failure to charge nephew in Chicago slaying”

Chicago Sun-Times: “The Killing of David Koschman: “

NBC Chicago: “Nanci Koschman Sues Police Over Civil Rights Violation”

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