A Cook County judge on Tuesday refused to clear a former Chicago detective’s record of an arrest and felony charges despite his acquittal after fatally shooting Rekia Boyd, an unarmed black woman, in a 2012 off-duty incident.
Criminal Courts Presiding Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. denied Dante Servin’s expungement petition after hearing testimony last Thursday that mainly focused on the detective’s long list of police commendations and achievements.
“The fact that one is found ‘not guilty’ does not make one innocent,” Martin said.
Prosecutors opposed the expungement, saying Servin might seek another law enforcement job and the public had a “right to know” about the case.
The shooting took place near the detective’s home on the city’s West Side. Servin, driving his car, confronted a group walking from an outdoor party. Then, the detective said, a man in the group seemed to point a gun at him.
Servin shot several rounds over his shoulder. One hit the hand of the man, Antonio Cross. Another hit the head of Boyd, a 22-year-old bystander, who died from the injury.
Prosecutors said Cross had no gun, just a cell phone. They charged the detective with felonies including involuntary manslaughter.
During the 2015 trial, Cook County Judge Dennis Porter abruptly acquitted Servin of all charges. Porter announced the verdict even before the defense presented most of its witnesses.
The judge said prosecutors had failed to prove the detective acted recklessly and that a more fitting charge would have been murder.
On Tuesday, Martin pointed to that ruling.
“The strength of the evidence and Judge Porter’s findings here are very compelling,” Martin said, adding that Servin’s attorney last week did not present any defense of Servin’s conduct in the 2012 incident.
“We never got into Mr. Servin’s defense or how viable it would have been but reading Judge Porter’s order, candidly, it seemed to me that Mr. Servin has benefited from the state’s … failure to file a murder indictment against Mr. Servin.”
Servin’s attorney, Matt Fakhoury, said after the hearing that the former detective had no obligation to present a defense on the trial’s charges to win expungement.
Martin also denied a Servin request for his criminal record to be “sealed” from the public except for government inquiries.
Servin resigned from CPD in 2016 just days before the city’s Police Board was scheduled to begin a five-day hearing to determine whether he should be fired for the shooting.
The city settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with Boyd’s family for $4.5 million in 2013.