A Cook County, Illinois, judge on Monday found a Chicago police officer not guilty on charges he fatally shot an unarmed woman.
In an unusual move, Judge Dennis Porter granted a defense motion for a directed verdict, meaning he found police officer Dante Servin not guilty without Servin even having to put on a defense.
Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct in the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, but Porter, in issuing his verdict, said Servin’s conduct was “beyond reckless” and therefore, “it would be improper to allow the trial to continue given the total failure” to prove recklessness.
"The evidence does not support the charges on which the defendant is being tried," he said.
Porter seemed to know his decision would be controversial.
"This is not a place for emotion," he said before reading his verdict. "This is a place for reasoned decisions."
Even so, as soon as the verdict, the courtroom exploded.
"For an officer to walk out of his house and claim that he's going to get a burger at 1 o'clock in the morning and my sister end up dead, and nobody's doing nothing about it, that's a slap in the face," Boyd's brother, Martinez Sutton, told reporters.
Servin walked out of the Cook County Criminal Courts Building surrounded by police security.
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"Any reasonable person, any police officer especially, would've reacted in the exact same manner that I reacted," he said. "I'm glad to be alive. I saved my life that night. I'm glad that I'm not a police death statistic. Antonio Cross is a would-be cop killer."
In the early morning hours of March 21, 2012, Boyd was with a group of people gathered in an alley in Douglas Park. Servin, who was off-duty at the time, encountered the group after leaving his house to get food.
From inside his car, prosecutors said Servin told the group to keep their voices down. Cross was one of the people in the group, and he pulled what Servin said he thought was a gun, prompting him to open fire. That object turned out to be a cell phone, prosecutors said.
Servin allegedly fired five shots over his shoulder into the group, and at least one of the bullets hit Boyd in the back of the head, killing her.
The slaying prompted protests demanding justice and an end to excessive force from police.
If convicted, Servin would have faced up to five years in prison.