The Chicago police officer who fatally shot unarmed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd has been found not guilty on all charges. The verdict handed down Monday cleared Detective Dante Servin, 46, of involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct in the 2012 shooting.
The decision comes as police departments nationwide come under increased scrutiny over the use of force in predominantly African-American communities.
“This is not a place for emotion,” said Judge Dennis Porter just before the courtroom erupted in anguish, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “This is a place for reasoned decisions.”
Servin shot Boyd during a late-night encounter on March 21, 2012, near Servin’s home in Douglas Park, on the west side of Chicago. Boyd, an African-American woman, was with three others when the off-duty officer approached in his car to complain the group was making too much noise.
A heated exchange followed. Boyd’s friend Anthony Cross, Servin said, waved what looked like a gun, and Servin testified that he thought Cross was shooting at him. Servin produced an unregistered handgun and fired at least five times, striking Cross in the hand and Boyd in the back of the head. Cross testified that he had been carrying only a cell phone. No gun was recovered from the scene.
In an uncommon ruling, Porter issued a directed verdict. Requested by the defense, the decision precluded the need for Servin to mount a defense or for the case to be decided by a jury.
Servin’s actions were “beyond reckless,” the judge said, but he indicated that the evidence did not support the charges. Servin fired his gun intentionally, the judge said, undercutting the prosecution’s case for manslaughter, a charge that requires proof of recklessness.
After the judge read the verdict, distraught family members of Boyd’s were led out of the courtroom screaming, DNAinfo Chicago reported.