By Nicole Flatow
Late Monday, a Cook County judge acquitted Chicago police officer Dante Servin of several homicide-related charges for the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman standing outside with some friends near his home. It was the first time in 15 years that a police officer had been charged in Chicago for a fatal shooting. And the courtroom attendees exploded in outrage as Judge Dennis Porter announced Servin was not guilty on all charges for killing 22-year-old Rekia Boyd.
But Porter’s ruling was particularly confounding because of bizarre reasoning that some legal experts are calling “incredible.” In an opinion that lamented Servin was never charged with the more severe crimes of first- and second-degree murder, Porter suggested he was acquitting Servin and sending him home without any punishment because the involuntary manslaughter charge against him was actually not severe enough.
Servin was off duty when he fired the shots. He encountered a group gathered in an alley while driving through in his Mercedes sedan. As he drove the wrong way down the alley after an altercation, he said he thought he saw one of the men reach for a gun and fired several shots over his shoulder at individuals who had their backs to Servin. Servin hit 22-year-old Rekia Boyd in the back of the head, killing her.
“He was constantly shooting,” Icka Beamon testified, who was in the alley that night and ran for cover. “He was trying to kill all of us.”
Porter, the Cook County judge presiding over the case, agreed that Servin was acting intentionally when he fired his gun. In fact, he said in his ruling, Illinois courts have long held that when a defendant “intends to fire a gun, points it in the general direction of his or her intended victim, and shoots, such conduct is not merely reckless,” but “intentional” and “the crime, if any there be, is first degree murder.”