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Police Beat

Blown Cases, Deaths in Custody and Beatings

CHICAGO — A Cook County, IL. judge on Monday dismissed manslaughter charges against an off-duty Chicago police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black woman before the cop’s defense had even put on its case.

An unarmed Rekia Boyd shot to death by  a Chicago cop
An unarmed Rekia Boyd shot to death by a Chicago cop

In a directed verdict, Judge Dennis J. Porter ruled that officer Dante Servin was not guilty of manslaughter and that he should have been charged with murder in the March 21, 2012, shooting death of Rekia Boyd. Servin complained that Boyd and the others she was walking with were talking too loud.

Servin fired into a crowd of five people, killing Boyd with a shot to the back of the head. Servin claimed he fired his gun several times in self defense.

The Cook County State’s Attorney charged Servin with involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm.

Porter said there was no evidence that Servin, who is white Hispanic, was reckless and therefore the Cook County prosecutor’s office could not sustain its burden of proof as to the fourth charge of involuntary manslaughter. Illinois courts have ruled that when a person points a gun, it is an intentional act, not a reckless act, Porter said.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s flawed strategy also means Servin cannot be tried for murder because of double jeopardy. I also means it would be difficult to try him on federal civil rights charges.

The ruling sparked an angry outburst and a demonstration from Boyd’s family and supporters who screamed that Servin was a murderer as he walked out of the court surrounded by off-duty cops for protection. Servin said he doesn’t regret what he did because he saved his own life.

The city of Chicago has paid Boyd’s family for $4.5 million for her shooting death.

BALTIMORE —Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Monday called out the national guard to halt a black rebellion in Baltimore by young people protesting the death of Freddie Gray who died of a spinal cord injury in police custody. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie  Rawlings-Blake also imposed a 10p.m. curfew beginning Tuesday.  (See our main story from the scene).

Gray 25,was buried yesterday and shortly after his funeral, sparked by anger and social media, young people flooded the streets throwing rocks and bottles at the police.

Freddie Gray died in Baltimore police custody.
Freddie Gray died in Baltimore police custody.

Baltimore police took Gray into custody on April 12 but it is not clear why he was arrested.  Gray was buried Monday.Freddie Gray Funeral

Gray died from a spinal injury while chained in leg irons in the back of police van. A video shows police dragging Gray by his shoulders and arms to a police wagon.

His death has sparked days of demonstrations against police.

The department has suspended six officers with pay while the department investigates Gray’s death.

LOS ANGELES — Richard Garcia, a Los Angeles police officer, has been charged with felony assault in the videotaped beating of Clinton Alford, Jr., 22.

Garcia, 34, claims that Alford resembled a robbery suspect. After a short foot chase October 16, 2004, police caught up with Alford. Alford was lying face down with his hands behind his back when Garcia kicked and stomped on him.

Garcia knocked Alford unconscious. Alford said police also tasered him in the back.

Alford was charged with possession of rock cocaine and resisting arrest, but the charges were dismissed. Police have not released the tape to the public but they said it was “horrific.” Alford’s attorney demands the police release the tape.

Garcia was relieved of his duties and assigned to his home, according to the LAPD website.

NEW YORK — Thee Rant, a blog for current and former members of the NYPD and founded by a former cop, refers to African Americans as apes, according to April 16th issue of ProPublica, a Pulitzer-prize-winning online newspaper.

After North Charleston, S.C., police officer Michael Slager killed Walter Scott by shooting him several times in the back, Thee Rant published a post that said “cop looked good in his stance.”

Ed Polstein founded The Rant in 1999.

DETROIT —  The Wayne County, Mich., prosecutor’s office has charged William Melendez, a former Inkster, Mich., police officer with the beating of a black motorist that was captured on video.

Kym L. Worthy charged the 46-year-old Melendez with misconduct in office, mistreatment of a prisoner and assault with the intent to do great harm. Worthy charged Melendez following an investigation by the Michigan State Police.

Melendez was seen punching Floyd Dent 16 times in the head following a traffic stop on January 28 in Inkster, Mich. Melendez dragged Dent from his car and beat him.

Dent was charged with possession of cocaine and resisting arrest. Both charges were later dropped. Dent, who is employed by Ford Motor Co., was hospitalized for treatment after the beating.

The city of Inkster fired Melendez on April 15 after a police dashcam video surfaced.

He previously worked for the Detroit police department, where the federal government charged him with planting evidence. Melendez was also involved in two fatal shootings, but he continues to work as a part-time policeman in Highland Park, Mich.



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