Trial begins Thursday for Chicago cop charged in Rekia Boyd case

Martinez Sutton, the brother of Rekia Boyd, who was fatally shot by Chicago police detective Dante Servin in 2012, speaks outside of the Cook County Criminal Courthouse on April 9, 2015, just before the first day of the officer's  trial. Standing next to him is Boyd's mother Angela Helton.

Photo by William Camargo

Martinez Sutton, the brother of Rekia Boyd, who was fatally shot by Chicago police detective Dante Servin in 2012, speaks outside of the Cook County Criminal Courthouse on April 9, 2015, just before the first day of the officer's trial. Standing next to him is Boyd's mother Angela Helton.

More than three years after he fired the shots that resulted in the death of a 22-year-old African-American woman from the south suburbs, Chicago police detective Dante Servin will stand trial starting Thursday on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Rekia Boyd, of Dolton, was shot to death in 2012 near a West Side park.

The Boyd case is unusual: It marks only the second time over the past two decades that a Chicago police officer has faced charges for fatally shooting a civilian.

A guilty verdict would be even more unusual.

If Servin were to become one of those rare exceptions, he would be the first Chicago police officer found guilty in a fatal shooting since Gregory Becker in the late 1990s. As previously reported by The Chicago Reporter, shootings of civilians by police officers rarely result in convictions.

Those odds are not lost on Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton.

“I am positive going into the case,” Sutton said. “But you just have to always be prepared for a little bit of disappointment.”

Sutton said members of Boyd’s family, including her mother, will attend the trial on Thursday.

In 2012, Boyd was socializing with a group of friends when they allegedly got into a verbal altercation with Servin, who was in his car. One member of the group allegedly pointed a cell phone at the detective. Boyd, who was unarmed, was struck in the back of the head when Servin fired shots at her companions, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Servin’s lawyer, Darren O’Brien, told the Reporter this week that his client believed he was in danger of being shot and was merely defending himself. Servin faces four felony charges, including reckless conduct, two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm and involuntary manslaughter, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

The 46-year-old detective, who has been assigned to desk duty, has been employed by the Chicago Police Department since 1991.

In 2013, Boyd’s family received a $4.5 million settlement from the city in response to a wrongful-death suit. However, Sutton said he’s “trying to make sure her death was not in vain. That’s what’s missing.”

Sutton was disappointed that prosecutors classified Boyd’s death as unintentional rather than murder. A spokesperson for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office declined to discuss the decision or any details of the case.

“Money will never replace my sister’s life. I just want to see the justice system work,” Sutton said.

O’Brien said the shooting, though “tragic,” was not a criminal act, and any other citizen who thought his or her life was in danger would have taken a similar action.

“[Servin] is innocent and the evidence will support that fact,” he said.