Less than one month after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida, 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, who was unarmed, died after an off-duty Chicago police officer fired in self-defense on March 21. The officer has said he drove up to a group of people at 1 a.m. while looking into a disturbance near his home. The officer pulled out his gun and fired after he saw 39-year-old Antonio Cross pull out a gun. The shots hit Boyd in the head, and she died the next day.
But neighbors and witnesses disagree with the officer’s account of what happened. Cross has said he was unarmed and was using his cell phone when the officer fired. He has been charged with aggravated assault. And an alderman representing the area said residents have told him they witnessed the shooting but haven’t been contacted by authorities to give their statements. “A young person’s life [has been] taken away and there is not one person that has been out on these streets to canvass the area to talk to any of these witnesses,” said Alderman Michael Chandler.
Boyd’s older brothers Martinez Sutton and Darian Boyd received no information from police after they informed the family that she had been shot. They’ve now taken to investigating on their own to find out more:
According to Sutton, witnesses say the officer appeared intoxicated that night and was known by neighbors to have been drunk most of the time. Witnesses also say the off-duty officer approached the park in an unmarked car dressed in plain clothes while yelling belligerently at the crowd to “shut up.” More importantly, they say he never identified himself as a police officer. [...]
“My only objective out of this entire thing is to see that the police officer responsible receives some type of charges for his negligence,” says Darian Boyd, who described his sister as “a light hearted, free spirit.”
Martin’s death sparked a closer examination of similar shootings, but Sutton said he thinks Martin’s family has a better chance to receive justice since George Zimmerman, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense, is a private citizen and not a police officer. Like demonstrations following Martin’s death, anti-police brutality activisits and neighborhood residents held a march late last month at the scene of Boyd’s shooting.
Boyd’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the off-duty police officer.