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Records Reveal Sluggish Investigation Into Rekia Boyd's Shooting Death

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 16, 2016 7:53PM

Demonstrators fill Daley Plaza after charges against officer Dante Servin, who shot and killed Rekia Boyd, were dropped. (Photo: Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist)
New emails released by the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to the Sun-Times revealed more questions about how officials handled the death of Rekia Boyd and the case against officer Dante Servin, who shot and killed her in 2012.

In March of 2012, Servin, while off-duty, Servin was driving near Douglas Park when he encountered a group of people, including Boyd. After a verbal altercation with the group, the officer fired an unregistered weapon over his shoulder into the group, striking Boyd in the head and another man, Antonio Cross, in the hand. Servin alleged that Cross had a gun, but it was revealed he was merely holding a cell phone. Boyd died shortly after the incident.

The emails, released thanks to a public records request from the Sun-Times, show a now-familiar pattern of conflicting stories from police and witnesses at the scene, as well as an extremely slow process of prosecuting Servin for killing Boyd. Servin was eventually charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a weapon—a full year and eight months after the incident. Charges which were thrown out by a judge for “failing to prove Servin acted recklessly.”

“Corp. Counsel’s office advises that NO depositions were taken in the Servin case,” assistant state’s attorney William Delaney wrote in a message to other officials shortly after the City Council’s Finance Committee approved a $4.5 million settlement to Boyd’s family in March of 2013. “Seems unusual when a settlement is reached in less than a year.”

While officers wrote that Cross had a gun in their report the night of Boyd’s death, the criminal complaint differed, reading “the offender knowingly an[d] unlawfully pointed an object which the victim believed was a handgun at the victim.”

Some 10 months after the shooting, Servin and his attorney were interviewed by the State’s Attorney’s office, but it’s unclear if he had been interviewed prior and Alvarez’s office is staying tight lipped about it. During that meeting however, Servin added details to his official account, alleging that he had heard a gunshot and thought he may have been struck.

In addition to the Sun-Times, Black Lives Matter has also sued for records related to the investigation of Boyd’s death at the hands of Dante Servin, who is still currently employed by the department. Earlier this month the group filed suit after the Independent Police Review Authority denied a FOIA request for being “unduly burdensome” because it would take 60 hours to compile the documents. Calling the claim frivilous, the lawsuit reads “there is a tremendous public interest in the public understanding whether IPRA has been doing its job properly in investigating officers.”

Melvin Brooks, the attorney for Boyd’s family said:

“It didn’t take a year-plus to determine that this officer had acted improperly. If Servin was a private citizen he would have been charged that night with murder.”