A Chicago cop acquitted on criminal charges in the 2012 killing of a 22-year-old woman should be fired, a disciplinary agency is recommending.
Detective Dante Servin was off duty early in the morning of March 21, 2012, when he fatally shot Rekia Boyd.
The Independent Police Review Authority notified police Superintendent Garry McCarthy of the recommendation on Wednesday, police said.
Servin argued with a group of people in the Douglas Park neighborhood on the South Side, authorities said. He said a man pulled a gun and approached his car. Servin said he was in fear for his life and fired over his shoulder at the group. Boyd was struck in the head and died the next day.
The city settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with Boyd’s family for $4.5 million but admitted no liability. The man whom Servin said was armed only possessed a cellphone, authorities said.
The Cook County state’s attorney charged Servin with involuntary manslaughter, but he was acquitted. Since the acquittal, civil rights groups have protested at Chicago Police Board hearings, calling for the city to fire Servin.
“Today the Independent Police Review Authority, Chicago’s external, civilian-led body that investigates all police-involved shootings, formally recommended that CPD separate Officer Dante Servin,” the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. “We take the use of force by our officers, and the recommendations of IPRA, extremely seriously and we will carefully review the matter.”
IPRA found Servin violated department policy for shooting into a crowd, failing to qualify with the weapon he was carrying and giving inconsistent statements to IPRA, detectives and prosecutors.
“These findings and recommendations were based on all available evidence, witness statements and the policies and procedures of the Chicago Police Department,” said Scott Ando, the administrator of IPRA.
McCarthy has 90 days to review the recommendations before deciding whether Servin should be disciplined, said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for McCarthy.
Servin stood trial in April, but the judge tossed out the case before the defense even presented a case.
The judge, Dennis Porter, said prosecutors brought the wrong charge against Servin. He went to trial on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, not first-degree murder.
Boyd was with friends about 1 a.m. on March 21, 2012, when they walked from Douglas Park to a liquor store.
Servin was driving after completing his shift on a second job. Servin, who earlier called 911 to complain about noise in the park, said he told Boyd and her friends to quiet down.
He said someone cursed and then Antonio Cross, 39, rushed toward his car with a gun.
Servin fired from his car over his left shoulder, hitting Cross in the hand. Boyd, who stood about 30 feet from Cross, was shot in the back of her head.
The Chicago Police Board is scheduled to meet Thursday night, when IPRA’s recommendation to fire Servin is expected to be the main topic of discussion.
It’s unclear how McCarthy will respond to IPRA’s recommendation.
But after Servin’s acquittal, McCarthy raised eyebrows in April when he told reporters that Servin should never have been charged.
“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 at the time.
McCarthy would not discuss those details, though, saying he was waiting for IPRA to complete its investigation.
“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,” he said.
Martinez Sutton, Boyd’s brother, has led dozens of rallies protesting his sister’s death. Sutton on Wednesday said the recommendation to fire Servin gives him hope.
“We still have something to look forward to. It’s definitely good news,” Sutton said.
Sutton said he’s still disappointed Servin was acquitted and will continue efforts to ensure he is fired.
“We’d still like him locked up…he killed my sister. My sister is dead. She’s not coming back. She’s not coming back at all. For him to be fired, that’s a step in the right direction. But who wouldn’t want more?” Sutton said.
Darren W. O’Brien, who served as Servin’s attorney in his criminal trial, said IPRA had not contacted him or Servin to let them know of the ruling on Wednesday. But he said Servin is devastated and called the ruling “surreal.”
“The man thought this was finally all behind him and here it comes back again even after he’s found not guilty. What finally has to happen until this goes away?” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said the recommendation is “completely unjustified” in light of Servin’s acquittal in his criminal case. He said IPRA’s recommendations “are based upon erroneous conclusions.”
O’Brien said Servin fired in self defense. And he questioned why IPRA would state in its formal ruling that Servin “fired into a crowd.”
“There is no evidence that that’s what he did at trial, no evidence anywhere that that’s what he did,” O’Brien said.
Cross testified he was standing about two to three feet away when Servin started firing.
“The other people, including Ms. Boyd, were down on the block about 35 to 40 feet behind and tragically Ms. Boyd was struck because she was standing in the line of fire,” O’Brien said.