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Man charged in murder of CPD officer found mentally fit; will represent himself at trial

Jovan Battle allegedly pointed out off-duty Officer John Rivera’s car to the alleged gunman in the River North shooting.

Menelik Jackson (left) and Jovan Battle. | Chicago Police
Jovan Battle, right, will represent himself as he faces charges of murder and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of off-duty Chicago Police Officer John Rivera. Menelik Jackson, left, is charged as the gunman.

A 32-year-old man with a reported history of mental illness and homelessness will represent himself in the fatal shooting of off-duty Chicago Police Officer John Rivera.

Based on a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, Cook County Judge Dennis Porter found Jovan Battle mentally fit to stand trial Tuesday and grudgingly granted his request to dismiss his court-appointed assistant public defender and handle his own case. Battle, wearing a tan jail jumpsuit over a white, long-sleeve T-shirt with tattered elbows, filed a 31-page motion to dismiss the 16 counts against him and a demand for evidence, which prosecutors said they would provide by next week.

Battle bounced out of the courtroom as he was led to holding cell, pausing to let out a theatrical laugh as he turned his head toward Assistant State’s Attorney Nina Ricci.

“See you Monday, counselor!” Battle shouted.

On the night of March 23, Battle allegedly pointed out Rivera, who was seated with friends in a parked car on Clark Street in River North, to co-defendants Menelik Jackson and Jaquan Washington. Battle told the pair that Rivera was part of a group of men who had fought with Jackson and Washington earlier that night in front of a nearby McDonald’s, prosecutors said. Police say surveillance shows Battle pointing at the car with a liquor bottle, and Jackson walking up to Rivera’s car with a .40-caliber pistol and shooting Rivera as the officer turned to provide cover for his girlfriend in the passenger seat.

Battle shuffled purposefully through a folder of papers Tuesday, interjecting frequently — sometimes raising his hand, as if in a classroom — as Porter read off to him with an explanation of the potential prison sentences Battle faced.

In addition to murder and attempted murder charges, Battle is also charged with aggravated battery with a firearm.

“Why am I charged with aggravated battery with a firearm? I never discharged a firearm,” Battle asked the judge.

“They are charging you under a theory of accountability,” Porter explained.

Porter also explained that Battle will get no more access to the law library to prepare for his case than the jail inmates who have lawyers, and that if convicted, Battle would not be able to base an appeal on having ineffective legal counsel.