A judge on Monday found Chicago police officer Dante Servin not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and other charges, saying there was no evidence he acted recklessly when he killed Rekia Boyd, 22, in an off-duty shooting in 2012.
After a four-day bench trial, which is heard before a judge without a jury, Cook County Associate Judge Dennis Porter said in his written finding that Servin’s actions did not fit the charges brought by the state’s attorney.
Illinois courts have consistently held that when a defendant intends to fire a gun and points it in the direction of an intended victim, such conduct “is not merely reckless,” the judge wrote.
“The act of intentionally firing a gun at some person or persons on the street is an act that is so dangerous it is beyond reckless; it is intentional and the crime if any there be, is first degree murder,” Porter wrote in his finding.
Prosecutors said in the trial that Servin was in his car when he shot Boyd after getting into an argument with a group of young people in an alley. He was armed with an unregistered semiautomatic handgun.
Prosecutors and Servin’s defense attorney were not immediately available for comment on the ruling. Under double jeopardy rules, prosecutors would not be able to charge Servin again for the same acts.
Boyd’s family erupted in shouts and tears in the courtroom after the ruling.
“They said a lot of charges didn’t fit,” said Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton, outside the courthouse, tears streaming down his face.
“It’s a vacation for him. I was promised that they were going to take this officer down. Let’s do justice,” Sutton said.
A few protesters held a large sign reading “stop murder by police” and photographs of some 20 black people who have been killed by police across the country, including Boyd.
Servin was the first Chicago police officer in more than 15 years to be charged in a fatal shooting. His trial comes at a time of national debate over the use of lethal force by police officers, especially against unarmed African-Americans. Servin is Hispanic.