A Chicago police detective who in 2012 fatally shot Rekia Boyd, an unarmed black woman, resigned on Tuesday, two days before a police board hearing where hefaced the possibility of being fired.
Dante Servin’s resignation means the department, per standard procedure, drops all disciplinary charges against him, preserving his ability to collect his pension and other retirement benefits that he would have lost if he were fired.
The abrupt end to Servin’s police career caps his killing of a civilian in a case that has already seen a $4.5 million legal settlement, the first recent criminal charges in an off-duty officer’s killing of a civilian and his acquittal in court. That he’ll be allowed to keep the pension on his $97,044 annual salary was the least of the Boyd’s family’s concerns, said Rekia Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton.
“Why are we even fighting? He should be in a cell, like every other criminal serving his time,” Sutton said. “Even if I’m fighting to get this guy fired, he’s free to go about his life. He’s free to get another job.”
Servin fired shots from his car into a group of Boyd’s friends as they stood with their backs to him in a park on the city’s West Side in March 2012. Servin, while off duty, had argued with the group over noise before firing over his shoulder, striking Boyd, 22, in the back of the head, authorities said.
Servin said he thought one of Boyd’s friends had a gun, so he opened fire in fear for his life. Boyd’s friend, whom Servin shot in the hand, was actually holding a cell phone.
Boyd’s family was awarded $4.5 million in a wrongful death suit against the city, years before Servin was arrested. Nearly two years after Boyd’s death, Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter, making him the first officer in more than 15 years to face criminal charges in a fatal shooting.
A judge acquitted Servin in his 2015 trial before the defense had even presented any evidence, ruling that Servin had acted intentionally and not recklessly, so there was no way prosecutors could prove involuntary manslaughter.
“Everybody knew it wasn’t going to go through,” Sutton said of Servin’s police board hearing this week. “It’s like making a movie: You know that movie is being made. You know how the ending will go. You just don’t know the release date.”
Sutton, his family and activists had pushed for Servin to be fired since his stunning acquittal. But Servin remained on the force, drawing his regular salary.
In late December, then-police Superintendent Garry McCarthy moved for Servin to be fired. Servin told the Chicago Tribune the chief was on a politically motivated “witch hunt” because of heightened scrutiny of the department since the police-involved shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
McCarthy was later fired. Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez, who made the bizarre decision to charge Servin with involuntary manslaughter rather than murder, was defeated in her bid for re-election, a major victory for Chicago activists and those affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“For this campaign, we wanted to make sure people walked into the voting booths with Laquan McDonald and Rekia Boyd in their hearts,” activist Kelly Hayes said in March, after Alvarez conceded the race.
Despite new leadership and pledges of reform by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and thePolice Accountability Task Force, Sutton said he’s skeptical.
“How many broken promises has Chicago made?” Sutton said. “If we keep on falling on these broken promises, someone is gonna get hurt.”
Still, Sutton said he’s heartened that so many people have joined the push for justice. He called it “mind-blowing” that people know the name Rekia Boyd now.
“You have all these folks coming together from all over the country, and not just this country, but overseas. It’s powerful,” Sutton said. “It gives you hope again. It gives you hope in a sense because you know folks actually do care.”