Sunday, March 31, 2019

While the rich and famous get access to Foxx, murdered cab driver's family waits for answers

Anis Tungekar lies on the pavement as his attacker walks away. Tungekar would die two days later.| Provided
Omar Tungekar tried to contact someone in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office after his father was kicked to death in a West Loop road rage incident on Sept. 2nd.

“I spent days trying to find a way to contact someone,” Tungekar said. “and the first time I called, the person who answered the phone told me the guy who normally answers the phone was having a ‘hard day’ and couldn’t take my call.”

While TV star Jussie Smollett’s family had no trouble pulling showbiz- and politically-connected levers to get in touch with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx directly, Tungekar’s experience continues to be a nightmare.

“I wish I had [Smollett’s] access, but my dad was a working-class Pakistani cabbie. Those aren't groups that get access,” he said.

The man who killed Anis Tungekar was taken into custody by police shortly after the attack. Even though the entire murder was caught on video, Foxx's office refused to press charges within 48 hours, and the killer had to be released. Prosecutors gave cops a list of additional information that they wanted before the state would move to prosecute the homicide.

For weeks, as Tungekar tried tirelessly to advocate for his fallen father, Foxx’s office repeatedly refused to press charges against the 30-year-old Chinese national who was seen committing the murder.
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As recently as Dec. 20th, Foxx said her office was looking for “context” for the video that plainly showed the younger driver emerge from his Uber, kick Anis Tungekar in the head, and then return to his vehicle. Anis Tungekar fell to the ground, struck his head on the pavement, and remained lying in the street. He died two days later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

While Foxx’s office erected hurdle after hurdle in front of police investigators, Anis Tungekar’s killer fled to his native China where he sits safely shielded from extradition.

“I knew [a warrant would be issued] if the case were presented to a judge or the grand jury,” the younger Tungekar said. Prosecutors “nearly derailed the investigation by demanding CPD find a way to bring the fugitive back into custody without a warrant before felony review would consider charges.“
Anis Tungekar | Provided

Days after Foxx’s Dec. 20 statement, a judge finally approved an arrest warrant for Tungekar’s killer. Of course, the paper is worthless as long as the man remains protected in his homeland.

In the first nine months of last year, Foxx’s office refused to prosecute 34% of homicide cases that were presented to it by police. That’s the highest percentage of declined murder cases in eight years of publicly-available data. Under Foxx’s predecessor, the prosecutor’s office handled nearly twice as many homicide cases and had a decline rate of just 17% in 2014. The average annual decline rate for homicides since 2011 is 25.6%.

“Anyone who's watched how crime is prosecuted under Foxx’s administration knows there's a pattern of Kim Foxx ignoring the law to pursue a political agenda that bends criminal justice away from victims while holding herself unaccountable to victims,” Omar Tungekar said Friday. “We saw it with shoplifting, we see it with refusing to prosecute homicides, and we saw it with Smollett.”

“Considering her recent conduct we fear she could still undermine justice as she did in the Smollett case if we ever did get the suspect back in Chicago,” he said. “It's very important to us that people know this is happening. Not just for us, but also the many families who lost a loved one to a homicide Kim Foxx declined to prosecute.”

On Friday, Omar Tungekar filed suit against Foxx’s office for failure to fulfill his family’s Freedom of Information Act requests about his father’s case. In the lawsuit, the family alleges that Foxx’s conduct in their case is “consistent with a pattern of failing to prosecute crimes and preventing public scrutiny of the office’s conduct.”
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