Acquitted Chicago Police Detective Dante Servin “hit the individual who he was aiming at” and never should have been indicted, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday, citing details of the case that have not yet been released.
“Because of the way that played out, what you didn’t know is the defense and all the intricate details of that particular event. . . . If the details of that case were known, I think it would be a lot clearer” why no charges were warranted, McCarthy said.
Pressed to explain just what those extenuating circumstances were, McCarthy refused, citing an ongoing investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority into the shooting that killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd.
“I’d rather not [reveal those circumstances] because the investigation is not done by IPRA. . . . When that investigation is finished, we’ll be able to talk about it a little bit more in detail. If the trial had proceeded, those events would have come out. But you’ll see how it happened,” the superintendent said after a Navy Pier graduation ceremony for 98 newly promoted detectives and 13 commanders and captains.
Well aware his remarks might sound insensitive to a grieving family that already has received a $4.5 million city settlement, McCarthy stressed his deep regrets and said there is nothing the Chicago Police Department could ever do to make the Boyd family whole.
“We can’t make up for Rekia Boyd’s death. We can’t. And it’s something that should not have happened. Period. Absolutely positively not,” he said.
“But what I will point out to you is that Detective Servin hit the individual who he was aiming at. He also happened to hit her. And that’s a tragic circumstance, no matter how you slice it.”
At a time when police officers across the nation are under a microscope for allegedly disparate treatment of African-Americans, McCarthy said he’s concerned about the impact the case will have on the split-second decision-making by rank-and-file officers.
“My concern was really when an officer gets themselves in a position where they have a fear that deadly physical force is to be used against them, that officer can’t hesitate. It provides a safety hazard for the officer,” the superintendent said.
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“And my concern was, how is this going to affect policing in general and the Chicago Police Department? Because every single officer who’s out there now might be in a position where they hesitate and, as a result, they could lose their lives.”
IPRA’s chief administrator Scott Ando would only say, “I don’t know what he [McCarthy] is referring to.” Ando acknowledged that the administrative investigation of Servin was “suspended” pending the outcome of the trial and “resumed” immediately after the detective was acquitted.
Last week, a rare directed verdict of acquittal abruptly ended Servin’s trial.
In issuing the stunning ruling, Circuit Court Judge Dennis Porter said pointing a gun at an intended victim and pulling the trigger is an intentional act — not a reckless one. He essentially said Servin should have been charged with murder — not involuntary manslaughter — for firing into a crowd and killing Boyd in March 2012.
The fatal shooting occurred near Servin’s home in Douglas Park as Boyd was walking to the store with a friend behind two men, one of whom she knew from the neighborhood.
That’s when Servin drove past the group in his personal vehicle, asked the men to be quiet and got a profanity-laced response, according to his attorney, Darren O’Brien.
At that point, Servin claims one of the men, Antonio Cross, pulled a gun from his waistband, pointed it at Servin and ran toward the officer’s car, coming within two-to-five feet. No gun was ever found.
Cross returned to the crime scene to be questioned by police. The friend disappeared and was found at his home hours later, with plenty of time to dispose of the gun, O’Brien said.
“A person attacks you and you have a reasonable belief that that person is going to kill you. You fire at that person and wound him, but also kill someone standing in the line of fire about 30 feet behind your attacker,” O’Brien wrote Monday in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Should you go to jail for being a bad shot or because your attacker moved? Or should your attacker . . . suffer the consequences of his actions? The person [who] chose the moment you defended yourself when the innocent girl happened to be in the line of fire? The direction you were forced to fire in response to the direction from which he chose to attack you.”
Flamboyant defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. has accused State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez of deliberately charging Servin with involuntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder to “curry favor with” with the Fraternal Order of Police.
“When a man comes out, argues with an individual, then shoots an unregistered handgun over his shoulder into a crowd and rips the life out of a young vibrant African-American woman with no good cause and that individual is treated completely differently because he’s an off-duty police officer, that shows the problem we have in this county,” said Adam Jr., who is mulling a 2016 Democratic primary challenge against Alvarez.
“To charge that as reckless conduct and not first-degree murder — either you’re doing it because you want to curry favor with the Police Department or you’re completely inept. I think there’s no question it was deliberate. She wants to curry favor with the FOP. It took a $4.5 million settlement to get charges in this case. She was stuck in a hard place. If you charge first-degree murder, the FOP is mad at her. If you don’t charge anything, the community is upset. So, you play the odds. That says you’re thinking about your job, not about what’s right.”
Asked Monday whether he agrees with Adam that Alvarez’s “mistake” was intentional, McCarthy said, “I’m not gonna comment on theory.”
Alvarez has defended her decision to charge Servin with involuntary manslaughter, saying it was based on a “very careful legal analysis.”
Other prosecutors have argued that the lesser charge was their only option, given the fact that Servin drew his weapon from a holster on the right side of his body, pointed the gun out the driver’s side window across his body and fired five shots blindly over his left shoulder in the general direction of a man with whom he had gotten into a shouting match minutes before.