Cop Candor, Part II: 'Too Often, In Too Many Courtrooms . . .'

Cop Candor, Part II: 'Too Often, In Too Many Courtrooms . . .'
February 28, 2014

Steve Stanek

Steve Stanek (sstanek@heartland.org) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

On Thursday, The Heartlander published my piece headlined, “Cop Candor: ‘At Least We Didn’t Rape Her’.” I wrote about the Austin, Texas, police chief who recently made light of several of his cops being caught on video roughly treating a young woman jogger who allegedly jaywalked. He said:

Cops are actually committing sexual assaults on duty so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.

I used his remarks as the jumping-off point to write about the many crimes police are committing and often getting away with, often because other cops – and many times prosecutors – cover up for them. I encountered this problem decades ago as a young reporter but am convinced things are worse now.

It seems since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it’s become open season on Americans. Because of my job as a managing editor and research fellow here at The Heartland Institute, every day I look at newspapers around the country and many blogs. Not a day goes by when I don’t see a story about a police or prosecutorial outrage.

Today in the Chicago Sun-Times there is an outstanding editorial that touches on this subject. It goes perfectly with the outstanding work the Sun-Times has done to try to bring some semblance of justice to the family and friends of David Koschman, a young man who was killed by Richard J. Vanecko, a nephew of Chicago’s former powerhouse mayor, Richard M. Daley. Only now – nearly 10 years later – has anything happened to Vanecko. He’s serving 60 days in jail. If not for dogged reporting by Tim Novak and Chris Fusco in the Sun-Times, this sorry episode would still be buried.

Please do read the whole Sun-Times editorial. To whet your appetite, some excerpts follow. But before we get to the excerpts, let me mention the following:

Some people have contacted me to try to explain away the police abuses I cited in my first Cop Candor column. The gist of the argument seems to be if those people had merely stood still and put up no argument or struggle, they would not have been beaten up or shot (or at least not as much). I, for one, don't think human beings should have to act like sheep to stay safe. I'm told we're supposed to respect cops. Aren't cops supposed to respect us?

And I wonder what these people would say to Darren Manning, a 16-year-old boy from Philadelphia. He’s a straight-A student who attends one of that city’s best schools. The school’s principal and teachers describe him as a “model student.”

Last month Manning and other members of his high school basketball team got off the subway dressed in their uniforms to go to basketball practice. Police stopped them because, on this bitterly cold day, they were wearing scarves and hats that partially covered their faces. Apparently this a threat to Philadelphia cops.

The cops stared down the kids, scaring them, and they started running but Manning stopped. Now Manning might never be able to have children because a police officer – a female police officer – crushed Manning’s testicles in her hands while he was handcuffed. Surgeons had to repair the damage and say he might be sterile as a result of the injuries the cops inflicted on him. By the way, this model straight-A student who has never been in trouble and who voluntarily stopped running to allow the cops to catch him is now charged with resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer and reckless endangerment.

If anyone knows how Americans can fight back against these police outrages without getting ourselves beaten up or killed, please let me know.

 Now for the excerpts from the Feb. 27 Sun-Times editorial:

Sometimes it’s a video that surfaces in a criminal case, clearly contradicting how a police officer under oath described a scene.

Sometimes it’s a document that is uncovered late in the game, showing how a law officer’s story has changed 180 degrees.

Sometimes it’s a new DNA test that shows how an official version of events, accepted for years, couldn’t possibly be true.

 Too often, in too many courtrooms, people entrusted with assuring justice instead shade the facts to strengthen cases against people they believe to be guilty. Or maybe they’re just covering up for each other. Either way, innocent people caught up in such machinations never know what hit them. . . .

The cops in the Koschman case apparently cooked up a self-defense theory to protect Richard J. Vanecko, former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew. Police reports in the case said Koschman’s friends described him as aggressive, yelling and lunging in a 2004 encounter with Vanecko outside a Near North Side bar, an encounter that left Koschman dead 11 days later. But the friends told the Chicago Sun-Times, Webb and a grand jury that they never said that. How did that get into the police reports?

Moreover, after a second investigation in 2011, a police report stated that Koschman yelled, 'F--- you! I’ll kick your ass.' Where did that come from? Not one witness claimed to have heard that. . . .

The whole history of the former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge saga, in which police tortured suspects into confessing and then lied about the torture, shows how innocent people got swept up along with the guilty, with no recourse.

Another example was the 2007 case of Anthony Abbate, a police officer who beat a female bartender. Police conveniently forget to write in their report his name, that he was a police officer and that there was video of the attack. Does anyone believe that was an oversight? . . .

The real painful story of the David Koschman scandal, sadly, may be that this stuff happens all the time.

Steve Stanek

Steve Stanek (sstanek@heartland.org) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)