Impunity Persists For Rekia Boyd’s Killer

United StatesRacial Justice


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Lack of Justice Persists for Rekia Boyd

Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old Black woman, was walking with friends from Chicago’s Douglass Park when off-duty police officer Dante Servin pulled up in his Mercedes and told the group to quiet down. Without warning, Servin opened fire on the group of teenagers with an unregistered weapon, falsely claiming he saw a man in the group pull a gun.

Rekia was struck in the head and would never live to tell her story. Rekia was laughing just before the bullet struck her.

The tragedy of Rekia’s death mirrored that of the legal debacle that followed. After a 20-month delay, Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter, which requires evidence of “recklessness.” The judge in the case ruled that Servin was not guilty of the charge only because he intentionally fired his weapon at the group of teenagers and noted in his ruling that Servin should have been properly charged with first-degree murder, which requires evidence of “intent.”

Protests erupted in Chicago and elsewhere. Servin returned to the police force, only to “retire”—with his pension—days before a departmental hearing that could have led to his firing.

Why is this a key case?

Rekia’s death and Servin’s impunity took place against the backdrop of a documented, pervasive pattern of excessive force by police against Black Americans across the United States and in Chicago in particular. Officials in Chicago fatally shot more people between 2010 and 2014 than officials in any other major city in the U.S., and the city has spent more than $650 million on settlements for police misconduct since 2004. A report released by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force documents the systemic racism, bigotry, and misconduct undermining the fair operation of law enforcement in Chicago.

How is RFK Human Rights Supporting Rekia’s Case?

In 2015, the organization, along with the Human & Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law, filed a petition on behalf of Rekia’s family seeking justice before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). RFK Human Rights has also submitted reports to international human rights bodies, including United Nations experts and the IACHR, investigating police killings in the United States.. In 2015, RFK Human Rights also testified alongside Rekia’s brother, Martinez Sutton, at a landmark hearing before the IACHR.

What is the Status of the Case?

Rekia’s case remains pending before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Case Partner

Human & Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University

We partnered to file a petition on behalf of Rekia Boyd’s family seeking justice for her murder at the hands of an off-duty police officer before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.