CHICAGO – No charges will be filed against police or prosecutors who handled investigations into the 2004 death of a man killed in a fight with a nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a special prosecutor announced Thursday.
Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney and one of the city’s most prominent defense attorneys, led a special grand jury investigation into authorities’ handling of David Koschman’s death. Koschman died days after he fell and struck his head during a fight with Richard Vanecko outside a bar in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.
Webb said it was impossible to seek charges related to the original investigation because the 3-year-statute of limitations had run out. The statement did not include any comment about whether Webb thought either prosecutors or police had broken the law during the first investigation.
Webb also said charges could not be filed against police or prosecutors over a new investigation of the case in 2011 and 2012. However, his comments suggested he was far more satisfied that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not break any laws than he was the Chicago Police Department didn’t.
He said there was “no evidence of any kind suggesting any violations of Illinois criminal law” by the state’s attorney’s office. Of the police department, he said that “there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any violations of Illinois criminal law.”
Vanecko has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Koschman’s death and is awaiting trial.
In his statement, Webb said he has requested that the details of his 162-page report remain under seal, explaining that releasing them could damage Vanecko’s ability to receive a fair trial.
The case has generated considerable media attention, in large part because of Vanecko’s relationship to Daley, the city’s longest-serving mayor who left office in 2011. Koschman’s family contends there was a cover-up by police.
Locke Bowman, an attorney for Koschman’s mother, said Nancy Koschman understands the need for a fair trial but that she would like the report to be made public the moment the jury verdict is rendered. Bowman would not say how Koschman reacted to Webb’s announcement that neither police nor prosecutors would face criminal charges.
However, Bowman said that if the report includes evidence that any police officer or prosecutor did, in fact, engage in criminal misconduct in the original investigation, “They need to be fired.”
The judge who appointed Webb as the special prosecutor had concluded there was evidence to support allegations of police misconduct in the initial investigation, including ignoring or falsely recording witness statements and labeling the victim as the aggressor.