Litigation

Impunity Persists For Rekia Boyd’s Killer

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. Officers 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. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report finding that the Chicago Police Department engages in a pattern of unconstitutional use of lethal and non-lethal force.

How is RFK Human Rights supporting Rekia’s case?

In 2015, the organization, along with the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Centerat 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). In 2022, the Commission determined that the petition raised colorable claims that the United States’ failure to hold the officer accountable violated rights guaranteed under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Following that finding, in 2023, RFK Human Rights and the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center filed a merits brief with the 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 thematic 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 Partners

  • 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.