There is a different sound to Nanci Koschman’s voice this Easter over last.
Maybe it’s because she’s marking the 10th anniversary of the lone punch that ended the life of her only child, David.
But in her voice, there is more.
Easter is a season of transformation from suffering to renewal.
Nanci Koschman, 65, may be entering a new season of her own.
Anyone who has read the Sun-Times for the last three years knows this story. Knows it has taken a relentless news investigation led by Tim Novak and Chris Fusco; a special prosecutor; the involuntary manslaughter conviction of R.J. Vanecko; and a 162-page report — all to confirm what was obvious from the beginning. That the 2004 assault on 21-year-old David Koschman by a member of the Daley clan was covered up not once but twice by the Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors.
Though R.J. Vanecko this year admitted his guilt and served 60 days in jail, he is the only person in this whole horrible saga who’s been held legally or ethically accountable.
Mrs. Koschman keeps re-reading special prosecutor Dan Webb’s thick report. Each time, she is shocked to find yet another detail never revealed to her by authorities.
“If there are five stages of grief,” she told me, “I’m now in the second one.”
The first stage, as famed Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross taught us, is denial and isolation.
The second stage is anger.
Nanci Koschman is angry.
Which is why she, through attorneys Locke Bowman and G. Flint Taylor, filed a lawsuit in federal court charging the denial of her son’s civil rights.
“This is not about money,” said Mrs. Koschman. “I have nothing to lose anymore.”
The first hearing took place on Tuesday.
There are more than 30 named defendants, including current and former heads of the state’s attorney’s office Anita Alvarez and Dick Devine; former police superintendents Phil Cline and Jody Weis; R.J. Vanecko and Daley family members. But it is taxpayers who will underwrite the legal tab for any and all government officials.
“There is no underestimating the potential for the expensive and time-consuming process,” said Bowman.
If U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer green-lights this case, it will take years to resolve, as private law firms hired by the city and county make a bundle.
It doesn’t have to be.
Did the Jon Burge police torture cases teach us nothing? About how nearly $100 million in tax dollars went down the drain to try but fail to keep government’s dirty little secrets from the public?
This case can be different.
Rahm Emanuel wasn’t the mayor, and Garry McCarthy wasn’t the police superintendent when this happened.
They can do something significant. By scrubbing the Chicago Police Department of officers who threw David Koschman under the bus. By making Freedom of Information requests an open door rather than an obstacle course so we’re not pulling teeth to find the truth. And by joining in a request to open the special prosecutor’s grand jury material to public view.
This is a case about justice.
About renewing trust.
And it reaches way beyond Nanci and David Koschman.