Chicago Police Detective Dante Servin, who was found not guilty of killing unarmed Rekia Boyd in an off-duty shooting in 2012, resigned Tuesday. And once again, we are shown why real reform inside the Chicago Police Department can’t come soon enough.
In resigning, Servin took the easy way out. Chicago needs justice to be served at some point for the misdeeds of a police force so dogged by years of brutality that the Justice Department felt compelled to step in to investigate.
And really, it was clear early that justice in the case never really was going to be served even as the city moved quickly in March 2013 to settle with Boyd’s family to the tune of $4.5 million of taxpayer money.
From the moment Servin allegedly shot his semi-automatic weapon from his car into a crowd near his home in Douglas Park, cutting down a young life and injuring another, justice would never come.
It didn’t show up in the failed prosecution of Servin by a state’s attorney who later lost her re-election bid in large part due to her inability to prosecute bad cops.
Justice failed again in the controversial not-guilty ruling last April by a judge in that case who suggested the prosecution should have charged Servin with first-degree murder instead of involuntary manslaughter.
And now, with Servin’s ability to quit before a chance for the Chicago Police Board to decide his fate on the job one last time, some form of justice eludes us once again.
Tuesday’s resignation hammers home this hard truth: when it comes to police misconduct, closure is still out of reach. As the Chicago Police Board’s statement showed, we will not see or hear evidence in the case.
“It is the board’s understanding that given the resignation, counsel for the superintendent will follow normal procedure and file a motion with the board seeking to withdraw all charges against Servin without prejudice . . . In light of the resignation, the previously scheduled evidentiary hearing will not proceed.”
Life for Servin moves on, unabated.
About 1 a.m. on March 21, 2012, Servin, a 22-year veteran of the department, was driving down an alley near his home when he came across Boyd, her friend Antonio Cross and some others. As the Sun-Times has detailed, Servin asked the group to quiet down, words were exchanged, and as Cross waved Servin away, Servin fired at least five times.
Cross was hit in the hand. Boyd was shot in the head and later died.
Servin had said that Cross, who was carrying a cellphone, had appeared to hold up a gun. But no weapon other than Servin’s semiautomatic pistol was found, according to the Independent Police Review Authority.
In recommending his firing, IPRA cited numerous infractions, including shooting into a crowd, failing to show he was qualified to use the gun and for making inconsistent statements, according to reports.
And yet, it wasn’t until the fallout from another police shooting — the release last November of a video of a Chicago Police officer shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times — that former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy moved to fire Servin.
In fact, it was McCarthy who uttered the words after Servin’s acquittal that the officer shouldn’t have been indicted because he hit the person he was aiming at and “also happened to hit’’ Boyd.
We know how the story ended for McCarthy.
But for Servin, the story doesn’t end so abruptly.
As Sun-Times reporter Frank Main wrote, Servin can begin collecting his pension when he turns 50 in July 2018. His current salary is $97,044 a year, according to city records.
Once again, we are witnesses to a broken system. It’s a system that is supposed to serve and protect its citizens.
On Tuesday, the only person the system served was Servin himself.