On Monday (April 20), a judge found Chicago Police Officer Dante Servin not guilty over the shooting death of unarmed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd. Despite the fact Servin was not on duty when the incident happened, the decision swung in his favor and ignited a flurry of anger from the Boyd family and their supporters.
As reported by local ABC affiliate WLS, the bench trial, which means no jury heard the case, was overseen by Cook County Associate Judge Dennis Porter. The impetus of the trial was Servin confronting a group of people in March 2012, then firing his weapon at the group and killing Boyd.
Servin approached Boyd and her friends in the Lawndale section of Chicago, allegedly telling to group to be quiet. Servin fired his weapon after he thought he saw a man with a weapon which actually ended up being a cell phone. Boyd was shot in the head, and later died at an area hospital.
The state’s attorney brought the charge of involuntary manslaughter against Servin, but Judge Porter’s written finding stated that the officer’s actions didn’t fit the charges.
“Simply put, the evidence presented in this case does not support the charges on which the defendant was indicted and tried. There being no evidence of recklessness as a matter of law, there is no evidence to which the state could sustain its burden of proof as to the fourth element of the charge of involuntary manslaughter,” Judge Dennis Porter said. “Therefore, there is a finding of not guilty on all counts and the defendant is discharged.”
As soon as the verdict was announced, the courtroom exploded. Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton, shouted “that man killed my sister” as other family members cried out in disbelief. Guards escorted him out of the courtroom while Servin watched from the corner, blinking back tears.
As Servin walked out of court a free man, an emotional group of Boyd’s family, friends and supporters followed after him, shouting “murderer!” Servin, who spoke to cameras after the decision, maintains his innocence.
Emotions remained high not just in Chicago, but across the nation as news of the trial went public. There is an ongoing national debate about the use of police force against Black citizens. Many are still experiencing raw feelings over the recent deaths of Walter Scott in South Carolina, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and other similar cases over the past couple of years.