The presiding judge was more than up-front when he announced to a packed courtroom that if anyone was prone to emotional outbursts, “It might be a good time to leave right now.” As reported by the Chicago Tribune and also the Chicago Sun Times, both on April 20, 2015, both relief and anger were released as all charges against Chicago Police Detective Detective Danté Sévrin were thrown out of court in the March 21, 2012, shooting death of Rekia Boyd.
Charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a weapon and reckless conduct — the first criminal charges against an off-duty Chicago police officer since 1995 — Cook County Judge Dennis Porter granted a routine but rarely approved defense counsel mid-trial request, asking the judge to dismiss all charges against Detective Sévrin, arguing he shot only in self-defense when stated he saw a gun pointed at him. In between prosecutors concluding their case, and defense attorneys ready to present theirs, that’s when Judge Porter dismissed all charges against the accused policeman.
After a momentary stunned silence, hugs and smiles were abundant between Sévrin and his family, friends, and attorneys. However, anger and screaming obscenities was the reaction from the gallery. Boyd’s brother Martinez Sutton screamed: “You want me to be quiet? This m—–f—– killed my sister!” It was then that Sutton and approximately two dozen supporters were escorted out of the courtroom by Cook County sheriff’s deputies.
Prosecutors had stated Sévrin acted recklessly in March 2012 when he fired five shots over his shoulder from inside his car in the direction of four people who were engaged in “a raucous gathering” in a darkened alley by Sévrin’s home near the often crime-ridden West Side neighborhood of Douglas Park. However, Sévrin’s lawyers argued that he was in fear for his life after Antonio Cross, one of the four, pulled an object from his waistband, pointed it at Sévrin and ran toward his car. But police later recovered only a cellphone from the scene.
As reported, “Boyd, 22, was fatally shot in the back of the head, while other rounds grazed Cross’ hand and hit a signpost. Only Cross was charged in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, but the misdemeanor aggravated assault charge was dropped in March 2013 — on the same day the city formally agreed to pay Boyd’s estate $4.5 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit.”
Flanked by his supporters, to include a number of off-duty Chicago law enforcement officers, Det. Sévrin left the courthouse only to be greeted by obscenities. Yelling “F—– murderer” and “Go to hell!” roughly 40 people vented their anger towards the freed detective. Speaking to reporters, Sutton blamed State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez for not keeping her “promise” that the accused would be “taken down”. As Sutton said into a bullhorn so the mass of reporters could hear him, he complained that Sévrin would be “Makin’ 90,000 a year sittin’ on his ass.”
In his ruling, Judge Porter said that the charge of involuntary manslaughter requires a judge or jury to find the accused acted recklessly. The judge didn’t. As he said in his ruling, “Illinois courts have consistently held that when the defendant intends to fire a gun, points it in the general direction of his or her intended victim, and shoots, such conduct is not merely reckless and does not warrant an involuntary-manslaughter instruction, regardless of the defendant’s assertion that he or she did not intend to kill anyone.”
The judge also penned, “There was no dispute that Sévrin had intended to kill Cross, but under the involuntary manslaughter law, prosecutors had to prove he acted recklessly in the legal sense of the word. It is easy to say, ‘Of course the defendant was reckless. He intentionally shot in the direction of a group of people on the sidewalk. That is really dangerous … and in fact Rekia Boyd was killed. Case closed,’ ” Porter wrote. “It is easy to think that way, but it is wrong.”
Det. Sévrin told reporters, “Any reasonable person, any police officer especially would have reacted in the exact same manner that I reacted, and I’m glad to be alive. I saved my life that night. I’m glad that I’m not a police death statistic. Antonio Cross is a would-be cop killer, and that’s all I have to say.”