Chicago police officer who punched protester in 2020 resigns

Miracle Boyd, 18, an activist with GoodKids MadCity, speaks during a press conference in front of a statue of President George Washington near East 51st Street and South King Drive, describing a recent violent encounter she had with Chicago Police, Monday morning, July 20, 2020.

A Chicago police officer facing dismissal for allegedly striking an 18-year-old activist during a demonstration in July 2020 that turned violent has resigned from the department.

Officer Nicholas Jovanovich resigned effective in April. The resignation was not disclosed until Wednesday when the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates officer’s use of force, released a report on the incident.

COPA found Jovanovich used excessive and unnecessary force against Miracle Boyd when — as captured by cellphone video — he struck Boyd in the face as protesters tried to take down the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park on July 17, 2020.

Boyd said she lost a tooth, and the confrontation sparked widespread outcry. 

.@chicagosmayor we now have the video of Miracle being sucker punched by CPD! They don’t keep us safe! While they’re attacking a 2020 CPS graduates downtown, children were being shot tonight! A pregnant Womxn was shot & a 14 & 15y/o! You need to #DefundCPD now!

— GoodKidsMadCity (@GKMC18) July 18, 2020

COPA noted that Jovanovich and his partner blocked Boyd’s path as she used her phone to record officers who were clashing with the protesters. Jovanovich extended his left arm and knocked Boyd’s phone from her hand, “causing the phone to hit her face and knock out one of her front teeth,” COPA said in its report.

Jovanovich was also accused of filing a false police report by claiming Boyd was swinging an “unknown object” when she approached officers. He stated that he believed she “was going to batter the arresting officers or attempt to defeat the arrest.” 

The incident was captured on video by a third party across the street and shows Boyd backing up as Jovanovich approaches her. When shown the video by COPA investigators, Jovanovich pointed out that the footage was taken from a distance and captured a different perspective than he had at the time.

Jovanovich told COPA investigators that Boyd was “yelling profanities and flailing her arms.” He said that he was in a “hypervigilant state” when he approached Boyd and was fearful of an attack because protesters were lining up behind the officers, according to the report.

Jovanovich denied making any contact with Boyd’s face.

COPA also noted that Jovanovich did not attempt to use any de-escalation techniques or give Boyd any “verbal direction” during the encounter. He also admitted that Boyd was not breaking the law by recording officers with her phone.

The agency concluded its investigation of the incident in June of last year and sent its findings and recommendations to Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, who then had 60 days to respond.

COPA recommended that Jovanovich be fired for violating a list of departmental rules, but Brown objected and proposed a suspension of one year. He agreed only with a finding that Jovanovich violated department policy by unnecessarily using excessive force.

The dispute was settled by a member of the Chicago Police Board who ruled in favor of COPA and recommended the board begin proceedings that could have led to Jovanovich’s firing. 

Days after the incident, Boyd said at a rally that she wanted Jovanovich “relieved of his duties.” She told reporters she was “disgusted” at being a “victim to the biggest gang in America,” referring to the police department.

Contributing: Tom Schuba

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