When Chicago Police Detective Dante Servin was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Rekia Boyd, it was a slap in the face of supporters.
That Servin was able to walk away because prosecutors mischarged the case also added to the national furor over police-involved shootings.
Last month, protesters shut down a Chicago Police Board meeting with demands that Servin be fired.
Leaders of the group sent out a press release on Wednesday vowing to do the same at a police board meeting scheduled for Thursday.
However, late Wednesday afternoon, the Independent Police Review Authority beat them to the punch and announced its recommendation that Servin be terminated.
In a statement released by the Chicago Police Department, the department said IPRA “formally recommended that CPD separate Officer Dante Servin.”
“We take the use of force by our officers and the recommendations of IPRA extremely seriously and we will carefully review this matter,” the Chicago Police Department said.
The recommendation may not be enough to silence protesters.
“We absolutely intend to re-emphasize our demands,” Charlene Carruthers, national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100), said in a telephone interview.
“While we don’t believe the Chicago Police Board or the Independent Police Review Authority have legitimacy … what is most important to us is Dante Servin is fired and without a pension,” she said.
The Chicago Police Board couldn’t move in that direction until it heard from IPRA, and IPRA has a history of moving painfully slow on high-profile, police-related shootings.
For instance, in April, the Chicago City Council agreed to pay the family of Laquan McDonald $5 million to stave off legal action in the police-involved shooting.
McDonald was 17-years-old and a ward of the state when a Chicago police officer shot him 16 times nearly a year ago.
IPRA has yet to render a ruling on the shooting. The still unidentified police officer has been stripped of his police powers but remains on the payroll.
Recent allegations leveled against the investigative agency, however, may have put some heat under it.
IPRA was rocked by accusations that the agency’s new chief administrator, Scott Ando, asked investigators to change findings.
Lorenzo Davis, who was fired after a performance evaluation, claimed publicly that he was asked to alter findings in three police shootings.
Ando has denied ever asking Davis to change his findings.
With respect to Servin, Ando said in a statement that the detective violated the Chicago Police Department “policy by discharging a firearm into a crowd, striking Rekia Boyd, an innocent bystander” and made “inconsistent statements” about the incident to detectives.
Still, there’s no guarantee that IPRA’s recommendation will carry much weight with the Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. He is already on the record saying Servin never should have been indicted.
“If the details of that case were known, I think it would be a lot clearer why no charges were warranted,” McCarthy said.
So protesters aren’t likely to see IPRA’s recommendation as a big victory.
“For us, it is really important that when police kill people they cannot continue to have the same power,” Carruthers told me.
“We are calling for him to be fired without a pension. We don’t believe that taxpayers should be called on to invest in the life of someone who took the life of a young black woman,” she said.