The Supreme Court spurned a Chicago Sun-Times appeal that seeks to throw out a lawsuit brought by cops resulting from its investigation of the cover-up of an involuntary manslaughter case involving the then-mayor’s nephew.
As is its custom, the court didn’t give reasons Monday as to why it was letting litigation proceed in a dispute about whether the paper violated officers’ privacy when it published information about them taken from state driver license records.
The cops argue that the paper thus violated a federal law that aims to protect driver license data.
The dispute is an ancillary one in a much bigger story involving police conduct. The matter about which the court ruled involves the suggestion that the license information was used by officers to assemble a rigged police lineup in a case involving a man’s 2004 death after a late-night confrontation between two groups on a Chicago street.
Those involved included a nephew of then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. That nephew, Richard Vanecko, then 29, ultimately pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of David Koschman, then 21, after a late night of bar hopping for all those involved in the incident. Koschman would die 12 days later from brain injuries.
The plea resulted from the newspaper’s lengthy investigation into the incident and possible police cover-up. Its probe prompted the appointment of a special prosecutor. His final report led to Vanecko’s indictment in December 2012 and his January 2014 guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter. He served a 60-day jail sentence last year.
The special prosecutor, prominent local attorney Dan Webb, considered criminal charges against an array of officers but did not bring them.
The entire matter resurfaced indirectly recently amid a police department shakeup in the aftermath of the case of Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old shot and killed by an officer last year. Video of the shooting prompted worldwide attention.
One of those who retired in the subsequent department shakeup was the chief of detectives, who also oversaw the original Koschman investigation and concluded no charges were warranted against the then-mayor’s nephew.