Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy came ready Thursday night for the throng of protesters who, as they have for the past few months, packed the Chicago Police Board’s meeting to demand detective Dante Servin be fired.
Servin was charged and subsequently acquitted on a technicality after fatally shooting 22-year-old Rekia Boyd in March 2012. The Independent Police Review Authority recommended in September that the veteran officer be fired—a first in the board’s history. McCarthy has 90 days from the ruling to accept or reject the agency’s recommendation.
“I apologize we don’t have it done yet,” McCarthy said, referring to the case. “We still have 60 days, and I am not going to put a time frame on this, but I will guarantee you that it is not going to take that long. But tonight I cannot sit here and tell you where the case is. That is a little premature based on what we do.”
At Thursday’s meeting, McCarthy tried to appease protesters’ ire over the protracted process to separate Servin from the department. He said that the department’s attorneys are still looking at the case “to determine the correct charges and all the legalities that need to go forward to bring a good case in front of the police board.”
Still, that did not satisfy a litany of speakers who told Police Board members and McCarthy that a decision to dismiss Servin had dragged on long enough. Servin, who was off-duty at the time of the 2012 shooting, fired his gun over his shoulder while inside his car.
According to court testimony, Servin argued with Boyd and her friends about loud noise near Douglas Park before shooting at the group, killing Boyd and injuring another man. Servin claimed self-defense because he thought someone had drawn a weapon, though none was found at the scene.
Servin faced several charges including involuntary manslaughter for Boyd’s death. But a Cook County judge dismissed the charges on a technicality: Servin’s actions didn’t amount to reckless conduct, the judge said, but an intentional act that warranted a first-degree murder charge. The unusual decision spurred more protests by Boyd’s family and supporters, who took control of a Police Board meeting in August before it was abruptly shut down.
IPRA, which investigates officer shootings and allegations of police misconduct, made its recommendation to the Chicago Police Department to fire Servin three years after the shooting.
Mike Siviwe Elliott of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression was one of the speakers Thursday night. In his remarks, Siviwe Elliott said that IPRA’s recommendation was a direct result of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and pressure from community activists and Boyd’s family. His group has been pushing for an elected civilian police board to replace IPRA and the Chicago Police Board, members of which are currently appointed by the mayor.
“So we are not going to thank you for that [recommendation to fire Servin], because you owe us that,” he said. “You been owing us that for a long time.”
“It’s not supposed to take three years to fulfill a sworn duty,” said Aislinn Sol, a member of the activist collective BlackLivesMatter Chicago. “You had three years, McCarthy. You don’t need 60 days.”
The City Council’s Black Caucus called for McCarthy’s firing earlier this month after a bloodier-than-usual September, saying that McCarthy has “failed” their communities. Several speakers Thursday also pressured McCarthy to either take action or resign.
“Stand up or step down,” said LaCreshia Birts, a member of CAARPR and Black Youth Project 100. “All actions taken by CPD start and end with you, McCarthy. . . . Stand up and hold police who commit crimes against civilians accountable.”
As the last speaker was called to the podium, some in the audience stood up and chanted “Fire Servin now.” Afterward, the group gathered outside Chicago Police Department headquarters to hold an impromptu rally. Boyd’s brother Martinez Sutton, 32, addressed the crowd.
“It’s been over three years—March 21, 2012 is when my sister got killed,” Sutton said. “I didn’t get an apology from the mayor. The superintendent didn’t apologize to us. She is just dead.”
Sutton also expressed disappointment that the decision to terminate Servin has yet to come, saying he finds it hard to understand how a man who committed what a judge deemed murder could still be a free man working at the Police Department.
“This decision should have been made back in 2012,” Sutton said. “It should take no 90 days at all.”
This report was published in collaboration with City Bureau, a Chicago-based journalism lab.