The [Monday] Papers
A member of the grand jury that indicted R.J. Vanecko reached out to Carol Marin to express his frustration with the case, and his comments to her are quite illuminating. For example:
CM: The Cook County state's attorney's head of felony review, Darren O'Brien, appeared before you. It was he who told police there was insufficient evidence to charge Vanecko . Will you describe his testimony?
CM: But, in the end, you and your fellow grand jurors unanimously agreed not to charge anyone else with crimes suggesting obstruction of justice or the interference of clout. Why not?
So, unlike Eric Zorn, the grand jurors thought the evidence showed that the fix was in - a notion clearly supported by Dan Webb's report. Webb himself says he considered bringing charges against six police officers - not because they merely bungled the case, but because they fixed it.
"The special prosecutor's investigation identified limited evidence that is arguably consistent with a theory that Gilger and Spanos manufactured CPD's 2011 self-defense determination. To begin with, three witness statements recorded by the two detectives have been called into question by these witnesses. In each instance, the inaccuracies identified by the witnesses in these statements tended to support CPD's 2011 determination that Vanecko acted in self-defense . . .
"Although Gilger and Spanos' concluding case [supplementary report] in 2011 states that Koschman yelled `Fuck you! I'll kick your ass,' this precise language is not supported by any of the interviews in either 2004 or 2011.
"Finally, Gilger and Spanos' concluding case supp did not relate the fact that in his 2011 interview, [Koschman's friend Scott] Allen, one of only two people at the scene of the incident who saw the physical contact between Vanecko and Koschman, stated that Vanecko and his group 'were the aggressors.'
"Allen's statement undermines CPD's 2011 determination that Vanecko acted in self-defense. Even Gilger himself acknowledged during his special grand jury testimony in 2013 that the failure to include this particular statement from Allen in the concluding case supp was a fairly important omission that was contrary to CPD's 2011 determination that Vanecko acted in self-defense."
Why Webb thought he didn't have enough evidence to charge the officers is a bit of a mystery, given that one judge was already convinced before the grand jury evidence that Chicago police conspired to protect Vanecko - Judge Michael P. Toomin, who named the special prosecutor after his own review of the case.
"Toomin's ruling hinged in large part on allegations that police deliberately falsified reports to make it appear that Koschman, who was 5-feet-5 and 140 pounds, was the aggressor during the confrontation with the 6-feet-3, 230-pound Vanecko," the Tribune reported at the time.
"The judge blasted police and prosecutors for saying that Vanecko acted in self-defense even though they had never interviewed him.
"'The conclusion that must be drawn (is that) this was a defense conjured up by police and prosecutors, made of whole cloth,' Toomin said.
"He also said the investigation was plagued by what he called 'missing-files syndrome, an affliction common to both the Police Department as well as the state's attorney's office.'
Toomin called the police version of events "the fiction of self-defense."
It gets worse.
"After the Chicago Sun-Times began the investigation that led to former Mayor Richard M. Daley 's nephew pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, Daley 's administration began scrambling to write a police report that falsely concluded Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko was defending himself when he threw the punch that killed David Koschman," the paper reports.
"City Hall's 59-day investigation involved 16 police officials - from top brass to detectives - as well as Daley 's law department and the mayor's press office, including one of Daley 's closest confidantes, Jacquelyn Heard."
Back to Marin:
CM: The Daley family friends - Bridget and Kevin McCarthy and Craig Denham - testified before you?
CM: Did you ask them about the fact that after Koschman was put in an ambulance, they arranged to meet at a bar?
CM: Any questions you still want answered?
The answer is Yes. The cover-up worked.
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Posted on February 10, 2014
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