A Chicago police officer who struck an 18-year-old activist during a chaotic 2020 downtown protest has resigned from the Chicago Police Department.
Officer Nicholas Jovanovich faced termination after Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability found that he used excessive and unnecessary force on activist Miracle Boyd. The officer also filed a false police report indicating he acted in self-defense when he punched the then-18-year-old activist.
Now, the 17-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department has stepped down rather than face a vote on his fate by the Chicago Police Board.
A Chicago police spokeswoman confirmed Jovanovich’s resignation, effective April 2022, but declined to comment on the officer’s decision.
Investigators with the police accountability agency found that Jovanovich and his police partner attempted to stop Boyd from filming the arrest of another protester on July 17, 2020, during a demonstration in Grant Park that called on the city to remove a Christopher Columbus statue from the premises.
First, the officers blocked Boyd’s path, according to a report from the agency, and then “Jovanovich extended his left arm and forcefully struck [Boyd’s] cell phone from her hand, causing the phone to hit her face and knock out one of her front teeth.”
According to the report obtained by WBEZ, Jovanovich told city investigators that protesters “throwing objects such as rocks, bricks, frozen cans, and frozen water bottles at the officers” put him in a “hypervigilant state.” In that state the officer approached Boyd as she filmed a different group of officers with her cell phone. He told investigators he believed the 18-year-old was going to hit officers with her cell phone so he swung his hand toward hers to knock the phone out of her hand.
He admitted that he did not give Boyd “any verbal instructions” or use de-escalation tactics. He said he believed the force he used was necessary because Boyd was a “violent assailant” moving toward officers in a threatening manner.
Boyd told investigators she started filming with her phone because she saw officers “beating” protesters. She was approaching a man facing an arrest in an effort to learn his name and other information to locate him later in CPD custody.
Boyd said she backed away when Jovanovich approached her in a “threatening manner” but was unable to retreat fast enough and that the officer balled his hand into a fist and hit her in the face. She said the blow knocked out one of her front teeth, damaged another and caused blood to gush out of her mouth.
The officer’s swing was caught on video by someone else. In the recording, Boyd is backing away from Jovanovich before the swing.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown initially rejected the agency’s call for Jovanovich firing for the incident. He agreed that Jovanovich used excessive force but disputed all the other charges against Jovanovich, including the finding that he lied on his police report when he said he acted in self-defense. Brown recommended that Jovanovich get a one-year suspension instead of discharge.
However, in March, a Chicago Police Board member overruled Brown and recommended that the entire board consider firing Jovanovich for the incident.
Jovanovich’s decision to resign means that the vote won’t happen. Another officer, Andres Valle, received a 30-day suspension for failing to report Jovanovich’s use of excessive force.
WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell contributed reporting to this story.