Despite the city’s paper thin promises of new transparency and accountability in policing, this morning a Black Lives Matter Chicago organizer had to resort to filing suit, to force release of FOIA’d information from the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the City body charged with investigating alleged misconduct by police.
In November, BLMChi organizer Jason Tompkins filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), for investigative records relating to Detective Dante Servin, the Chicago Police officer who killed Rekia Boyd in March 2012. Under arguments that this request was too broad and “unduly burdensome,” the request was denied. Amazed, Tompkins believes that this is grounds to file suit.
Under the misleadership of Anita Alvarez, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office possessed full access of IPRA’s investigative records into the shooting, when they brought charges of involuntary manslaughter to Servin’s criminal trial in April 2015. Cook County Judge Dennis Porter acquitted Servin in that bench trial, via a directed verdict, arguing that Rekia’s killing was intentional. In September 2015, three and a half years after the shooting took place, and several months after the criminal trial ended, IPRA finally recommended Servin’s termination. Yet, Servin is currently still on the force, and taxpayers continue to pay his salary of over $90,000 per year.
To be clear: it is due to the political courage of Rekia’s family that we, alongside BYP100, the Women’s Allpoints Bulletin, Assata’s Daughters, #LetUsBreathe Collective, the Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and many other allied projects and organizations, have uplifted the demand to #FireServinNOW and revoke his pension at monthly Police Board meetings, marches, rallies and actions. It is the political courage of Rekia’s family that has ultimately precipitated the resignation of former IPRA Chief Scott Ando, and the appointment of Sharon Fairley in December 2015.
As the suit notes, “There is a tremendous public interest in knowing whether IPRA should have previously disciplined Servin.” It is likely that the legal defense funds the city has recently allocated fighting other FOIA cases far exceeds the labor costs necessary for IPRA to comply with this request. IPRA is literally arguing that this information isn’t important enough to justify two weeks of work.
Mr. Tompkins is represented by Matt Topic, of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Recently, Loevy & Loevy successfully obtained the release of the dashcam video of Laquan McDonald’s shooting death at the hands of Chicago police.
Black Lives Matter Chicago held a press conference to announce a lawsuit filed against the Independent Police Review Authority.