Criminal Justice

Judge rules prosecutors undercharged cop in fatal shooting and acquits him

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Protests followed a Chicago judge’s decision on Monday to toss a charge of involuntary manslaughter against a Chicago police officer accused of firing his gun into a crowd, killing 22-year-old Rekia Boyd.

Judge Dennis Porter said Cook County prosecutors had undercharged the officer, 46-year-old Dante Servin, because his alleged acts were intentional rather than reckless. The Chicago Tribune, Reuters and the Chicago Sun-Times covered the directed verdict, and the Chicago Tribune has another story on the aftermath.

In the final seconds of a video of his courtroom announcement, Porter appears disgusted as he turns a page in his paperwork with a dismissive wave of his hand and pushes himself back from the bench.

“Illinois courts have consistently held that when the 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 and does not warrant an involuntary-manslaughter conviction,” Porter wrote in his order for a directed verdict.

“This is the recognition by the law that the act of intentionally firing a gun at some person or persons on the street is an act so dangerous that it is beyond reckless; it is intentional and the crime, if any there be, is first-degree murder.”

Porter said he did not have to reach Servin’s defense that he fired in self-defense after a member of the group pulled what appeared to be a gun out of his waistband. Police found a cellphone but no gun.

Prosecutors defended their charging decision, saying the facts showed the March 2012 shooting was not an intentional or knowing murder, the Tribune reports. “What he did was he shot over his back, backwards into the dark of night … toward people,” said Alan Spellberg, supervisor of the criminal appeals division for the Cook County State’s Attorney.

The Tribune calls the directed verdict “a double blow for prosecutors” because it cannot be appealed, and because double jeopardy protections bar a retrial for Servin.

Dante Servin Ruling

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