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.

SHARE Despite top cop’s objection, officer who struck activist during chaotic Grant Park rally now faces dismissal
Miracle Boyd, an activist with GoodKids MadCity, speaks during a press conference in front of a statue of President George Washington near East 51st Street and South King Drive on Monday morning, July 20, 2020.

Miracle Boyd, an activist with GoodKids MadCity, speaks during a press conference in front of a statue of President George Washington near East 51st Street and South King Drive, describing a recent violent encounter she had with Chicago Police, Monday morning, July 20, 2020. Boyd was participating in a Friday evening protest against a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park, when she alleges she had several teeth knocked out by a Chicago Police officer. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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.

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 thearrest.”

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.

The Latest
After taking series from Royals, Sox brace for three games in two days with Yankees
Bernardo Gomez was on the Green Line platform in the 4700 block of West Lake Street when he was kicked in the head by the teenage boy.
The teams combined for 11 home runs on a breezy day at Wrigley Field. But the Diamondbacks hit seven of them — four off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Josh Rojas hit three homers and David Peralta two as Cubs lost their third consecutive game after winning four straight.
It’s an unusual timeline for any legislation to move through the council, and unnecessary at that, said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who vehemently opposes Bally’s proposal to break ground at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.
Inside of Telie Woods’ new eatery is a sign that says “Shalom,” welcoming all.