It’s been nearly two years since a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer hit GoodKids MadCity (GKMC) youth leader Miracle Boyd during a protest in Grant Park in 2020, knocking out her front tooth.

On Wednesday, July 13, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) announced that Officer Nicholas Jovanovich had resigned from CPD as a result of the assault. The police oversight agency recommended that he be fired from the police force after it concluded its investigation last year. 

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Instead, Jovanovich resigned in April 2022 before he could be terminated from CPD. In March, CPD Supt. David Brown went to the Chicago Police Board and “unsuccessfully argued for leniency,” according to a Chicago Tribune news report. His resignation means that his fate will not be decided by a vote from the Chicago Police Board. 

“We recently received notification that the accused officer facing separation in this incident resigned from the Department,” COPA first deputy Ephraim Eaddy said in a written statement on Wednesday.

Boyd learned about Jovanovich’s resignation from her attorney on Wednesday.

“I was a bit shocked, but I kind of wasn’t at the same time. It just came out of the blue that he had resigned. So it’s like I can’t believe it, like are you serious? So the first thing I thought of was [he’s] escaping accountability,” Boyd told The TRiiBE today. 

“He can be a police officer with another police department in another city and state, and the atrocious events that happened to me will not even be on his record,” Boyd added.

A 2020 paper in the Yale Law Journal called them “wandering officers,” those who are fired by one department, sometimes for misconduct, but go on to be hired by another police department. This month, former Cleveland police Officer Timothy Loehmann was sworn into a Pennsylvania police department eight years after he fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014; he quickly left the position after media attention and public outrage. The Pennsylvania attorney general said his hiring violated state law because the department didn’t perform a background check.

The incident occurred during the Decolonize Zhigaagoong protest on July 17, 2020. Boyd, then 18 years old, was one of the speakers during the rally that drew a crowd of about 1,000 near the Buckingham Fountain. Following the rally, the group marched to the Christopher Columbus statue when armed CPD officers surrounded the statue.

“I was initially leaving the protest early,” Boyd told The TRiiBE days after the protest in 2020. “I was about 100 feet from the protest when I started to hear what I thought were gunshots. I went to go see what was happening without getting into the crowd at all.”

Contributor Kelly Garcia reported the details of what happened to Boyd for The TRiiBE.

The sound of gunshots Boyd thought she was hearing were the fireworks going off at the Columbus statue that police officers were protecting. Reports say protestors were throwing water bottles and soda cans at police. 

“So I started recording on Facebook Live and that’s when I saw my friend crying near a police officer, so I headed over,” Boyd said. “That’s when I noticed a guy who was being arrested and I tried to get his full name right before an officer smacked me.”

As Boyd was recording the arrest on her phone, Jovanovich extended his left arm and hit Boyd’s cell phone from her hand, which caused the phone to hit her face and resulted in several injuries, COPA said. 

She said that one of her front teeth was knocked out, and the force was so severe that she had to undergo root canals for her two front teeth before she could get six veneers put in place. She also experienced nerve damage.

A viral cell phone video from another protestor captured Boyd being hit in the mouth. 

In June 2021, COPA concluded its investigation of the incident and delivered its findings to Supt. Brown. COPA said Jovanovich used unnecessary and excessive force when he struck Boyd without justification and that he made one or more false and misleading statements when reporting on the incident. 

Brown did agree that Jovanovich used excessive and unnecessary force but disagreed with the agency’s recommendation to fire the officer. Instead, he suggested that Jovanovich be suspended for a year. 

“PO (Police Office) Jovanovich authored a report which grossly mischaracterized the interaction and contained false information. Both the brutality of his physical action and his attempt to falsely justify his actions in an official Department Report make him unfit to be a police officer,” COPA said.  

COPA also recommended that two other officers involved in the incident, Sgt. Kevin Gleeson and Lt. Godfrey Cronin, be fired. Though neither officer committed excessive force, COPA said they participated in the “deliberate attempt to minimize” what happened because they approved reports from Jovanovich that included false and misleading information.

A third officer, Andres Valle, was accused of failing to report the excessive force Jovanovich used when he hit Boyd. COPA recommended a 60-day suspension. 

Boyd is an abolitionist, so jail time wasn’t the solution she desired. Instead, she wanted Jovanovich to participate in a series of restorative justice circles.

Restorative justice circles are used outside of the criminal legal system to repair the harm caused by crime. Typically an individual meets with trained community members to discuss the impact their choice has had on the community and they work together to come up with a repair of harm agreement that the participant must complete.

“That would have been a very powerful moment seeing that no cop in Chicago history has ever done so,” Boyd told The TRiiBE this afternoon. However, she recognizes that it would not be a quick process and that it could take years. 

“A restorative justice process or a healing circle is not a one-and-done thing. You can’t heal from something in a day. So I feel like that would have probably been a struggle for the officer to go through the accountability process of restorative justice circles,” she said. “That is not a one-time process, and it may have been frustrating and very different for him.” 

GoodKids MadCity organizer Miracle Boyd at a GKMC press conference in 2020. Photos by Alexander Gouletas for The TRiiBE®

Boyd is one of the plaintiffs listed in a class action lawsuit against the city and CPD. The suit includes many organizers and leaders in the movement for Black lives and alleges that the department responded to the city’s summer of protests and demonstrations in 2020 “with brutal, violent, and unconstitutional tactics that are clearly intended to injure, silence, and intimidate,” according to the lawsuit. 

After the incident, Boyd recalled being in pain that night and said sleeping was challenging. 

“It was very painful when it happened because, like that night, I couldn’t sleep, and wind pressure affected the inside of my mouth. So that was like a very painful night. I couldn’t sleep for like two days,” she said. 

She received free medical care from Smith and Smile Studio in Hyde Park and in Atlanta from Dr. Heavenly Kimes, a dentist and cast member of Bravo’s reality television show “Married to Medicine.”

Though Boyd no longer experiences physical pain, she remembers the assault vividly. She experiences anxiety when she comes into contact with large groups of police officers.

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What happened to Boyd nearly two years ago also demonstrated that “the city of Chicago has no intention of protecting the lives of Black and brown women and youth,” she said.

For a moment after the assault, Boyd said she did consider temporarily taking a step back from organizing. However, while she received support from her community and strangers online, she was harassed by random people online and received threats on social media, primarily from Facebook users who blamed her for being assaulted by Jovanovich. For a moment, she deactivated her Facebook account.

But taking a step back didn’t last for long, Boyd said, because she knew she was being honest about what happened to her, and she realized it was necessary to keep going. 

“I know who I am and what I stand for, and the important work that I’m doing in my community. I feel like that’s what’s important here,” she said. “We are fighting to pass the Peacebook Ordinance on the city and state level. We want it funded directly from the CPD budget.” 

GKMC started organizing around the Peacebook Ordinance in 2020. The ordinance would invest in young people and provide the resources needed to create a culture of peace in Chicago communities that experience both police violence and inter-community harm. 

The ordinance also calls for allocating two percent of CPD’s budget to community-run services such as violence interruption, education, mental health programs, and more.

GKMC and Chicago City Council members announced the ordinance’s introduction in June 2022, but the ordinance was blocked from advancing that same day, according to WTTW News.  

The Peacebook Ordinance was initially assigned to the City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations, but according to Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward), one of the Black alders sponsoring the ordinance, Ald. Derrick Curtis moved the ordinance to the Rules Committee, where legislation can sit for months without action. 

Boyd is scheduled to speak at a press conference on Friday at 12:00 p.m. at the Thompson Center located at 100 West Randolph Street. She will talk more about restorative justice and urge for the passage of the Peacebook Ordinance. 

“I don’t want folks to remember me as the famous youth leader who was assaulted by a police officer who resigned and didn’t get justice. Because at the end of the day, that’s one of many stories to be told about the work in general and other victims and survivors of police violence,” Boyd said. 

is a multimedia producer for The TRiiBE.