Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was accused Wednesday of deliberately charging a now-acquitted Chicago Police detective with involuntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder to “curry favor with” the Fraternal Order of Police.
Flamboyant criminal defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. said the rare directed verdict of acquittal that abruptly ended the trial of Dante Servin makes Adam more likely than ever to challenge Alvarez in the 2016 Democratic primary.
In issuing the stunning ruling, Circuit Judge Dennis Porter said pointing a gun at an intended victim and pulling the trigger is an international act — not a reckless one. He essentially said Servin should have been charged with murder — not involuntary manslaughter — for firing into a crowd and killing 22 year-old Rekia Boyd in March 2012.
Adam couldn’t agree more. But he argued that Alvarez’s “mistake” was intentional.
“When a man comes out, argues with an individual, then shoots an unregistered handgun over his shoulder into a crowd and rips the life out of a young vibrant African-American woman with no good cause and that individual is treated completely differently because he’s an off-duty police officer, that shows the problem we have in this county,” Adam said.
“To charge that as reckless conduct and not first-degree murder — either you’re doing it because you want to curry favor with the police department or you’re completely inept,” Adam said. “I think there’s no question it was deliberate. She wants to curry favor with the FOP. It took a $4.5 million settlement to get charges in this case. She was stuck in a hard place. If you charge first-degree murder, the FOP is mad at her. If you don’t charge anything, the community is upset. So you play the odds. That says you’re thinking about your job, not about what’s right.”
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To underscore the point, Adam pointed to the alleged cover-up by prosecutors and police after the death of David Koschman that triggered a $250,000 city settlement to Koschman’s mother this week.
Koschman died in 2004 after falling backward and hitting his head after being punched outside a Division Street bar by the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko pleaded guilty in January 2014 to involuntary manslaughter and served 60 days in jail after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation of the case prompted the appointment of a special prosecutor and Vanecko’s indictment.
“We, as taxpayers, literally spent $2 million to pay a private firm and a wonderful lawyer in Dan Webb to do her job because there were several police officers involved,” Adam said of Alvarez.
“All you have to do is pick up the actual indictment that Dan Webb came out with and see the number of state’s attorneys listed who either didn’t do their job or may have concealed evidence and the number of police officers who were involved in that same cover up. No one investigation or one person indicted in that.”
Adam then turned to fired off-duty police officer Anthony Abbate’s infamous videotaped beating of a diminutive female bartender.
“When you have an officer go into a bar and beat up a thin, fragile white woman and not face charges until the video comes out and you’re forced to, that transcends race,” he said.
“It’s been 20 years since a Chicago Police officer has been charged with a shooting in a criminal sense, yet we have hundreds of police shootings. The perception of this administration is hurting this county.”
Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office, issued an emailed response to the political broadside that attempted to turn the tables on Adam.
“The state’s attorney has articulated to the public her reasoning and sound judgment in all of these cases. Anita Alvarez has no intention of defending her record to the likes of Mr. Adam, who has spent his legal career not as a prosecutor but as a defender of violent criminals, rogue police officers and corrupt politicians,” Daly wrote.
“Mr. Adam should also be informed that the charging decisions made in the Abbate case were made under the administration of the former state’s attorney.”
Fraternal Order of Police president Dean Angelo could not be reached for comment.
Boyd was shot near Servin’s home in Douglas Park as she was walking to a store with a friend behind two men, one of whom she knew from the neighborhood.
That’s when Servin drove past the group in his personal vehicle, told the men to be quiet and got into a shouting match with a man in the group who pointed a cellphone at the off-duty detective and started walking toward the officer’s vehicle.
Before the trial was cut short, a detective and a prosecutor testified that Servin told them he opened fire because he believed he saw a gun pointed at him.
Adam, who defended convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said he will make up his mind whether to enter the state’s attorney’s race in June. He won’t be the only challenger.
Kimberly Foxx, chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, is expected to challenge Alvarez with Preckwinkle’s backing.
“Whoever it is has got to be someone other than the status quo. We can’t afford the status quo. We’re the laughingstock of the nation,” Adam said.
“Just think about the past week. The city paid out $5.5 million to [Jon] Burge victims and $5 million to the family of a kid shot in the back 16 times. Spike Lee was asked not to entitle his movie, `Chiraq’ before a weekend when 27 people were shot. Anita Alvarez was called out by a judge for not charging a police officer correctly. And the Chicago Public Schools are being looked at in a federal investigation [that forced its CEO to step aside]. Who can say the status-quo is working?”