Despite top cop’s objection, officer who struck activist during chaotic Grant Park rally now faces dismissal
During a demonstration that resulted in violent clashes between police and protesters who tried to bring down the Columbus statue in Grant Park, Officer Nicholas Jovanovich was caught on video striking activist Miracle Boyd in the face.
Over the objection of Chicago’s top cop, a police officer now faces dismissal for striking an activist during a demonstration in July 2020 that resulted in violent clashes between police and protesters who tried to bring down the Grant Park statue of Christopher Columbus.
Amid the chaos, Officer Nicholas Jovanovich was captured on cellphone video apparently striking Miracle Boyd in the face. Boyd, who was 18 at the time, lost at least one tooth during the incident, which garnered national media attention.
.@chicagosmayor we now have the video of Miracle being sucker punched by CPD! They don’t keep us safe! While they’re attacking a 2020 CPS graduates downtown, children were being shot tonight! A pregnant Womxn was shot & a 14 & 15y/o! You need to #DefundCPD now! pic.twitter.com/gYT4CL5HJ9— GoodKidsMadCity (@GKMC18) July 18, 2020
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the city’s police oversight agency, concluded its investigation of the incident last June and sent its findings and recommendations to Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, who then had 60 days to respond.
In a statement at the time, COPA noted that Jovanovich and another officer blocked Boyd’s path as she tried to record officers taking another protester into custody. Jovanovich then extended his left arm and knocked Boyd’s cellphone from her hand, “causing the phone to hit her face.”
COPA recommended that Jovanovich be fired for violating a list of departmental rules, but Brown objected and proposed a one-year suspension. Brown agreed only with a finding that Jovanovich violated department policy by unnecessarily using excessive force.
Nanette Doorley, a member of the Chicago Police Board, settled the dispute Thursday, ruling in favor of COPA and setting in motion disciplinary proceedings that could lead to Jovanovich’s discharge from the Police Department.
In addition to allegedly using excessive force, Jovanovich is charged with blocking Boyd from recording a public encounter and taking her phone and failing to inventory it, according to Doorley’s ruling.
He also stands accused of making “false, misleading, inaccurate, and/or incomplete statements” in a police report, according to the ruling. Among other things, Jovanovich stated that Boyd was swinging an “unknown object” when she approached officers from behind and that he believed she “was going to batter the arresting officers or attempt to defeat the arrest.”
Officer Andres Valle was also accused of failing to report the incident, the ruling states. COPA recommended a 60-day suspension, but Doorley agreed with Brown’s appeal to suspend him for half that time.
Three days after the incident, Boyd said she wanted Jovanovich “relieved of his duties” during a rally on the South Side. She told reporters she was “disgusted” at being a “victim to the biggest gang in America,” referring to the Police Department.
“I am not a menace, I am not a hood rat, I am not a rebel but a dedicated freedom fighter,” said Boyd, an organizer with the anti-violence group GoodKids MadCity.
Sheila Bedi, Boyd’s attorney, slammed Brown’s recommendation to suspend Jovanovich after Thursday’s meeting.
“I think the fact that the superintendent wants this officer who used such violence to stay on the police force says a lot about ... the culture of the department and says a lot about why the department has so struggled to comply with the terms of the consent decree and to right what is wrong with the use-of-force policies,” she said.
Efforts to reach the officers’ attorneys were unsuccessful.
Jovanovich has racked up at least 22 use-of-force complaints since he joined the police force in 2005, more than 96% of other officers, according to the Invisible Institute.
Last August, South Side Weekly reported that Jovanovich was previously accused of attacking a 17-year-old boy in Englewood in 2009. The teen alleged that Jovanovich struck him repeatedly in the arm with a baton while another officer grabbed him by the throat and shoved him against the wall.
The Independent Police Review Authority, the agency COPA replaced, ultimately cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, according to South Side Weekly.