On the surface at least – something appears to be very wrong here. How exactly dies a police officer getting stopped for a simple traffic violation devolve into a full out gunbattle?
And how exactly do you charge the only guy in said gunbattle who never discharged his weapon, and was shot 21 times in the back, with “attempted murder”?
As much of the country follows the Trayvon Martin case, activists in Chicago are hoping to bring some of that attention to Howard Morgan, a former Chicago police officer who was shot 28 times by white officers — and lived to tell his side of the story.
Morgan was off-duty as a detective for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad when he was pulled over for driving the wrong way on a one-way street on Feb 21, 2005, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. While both police and Morgan agree on that much, what happened next is a mystery.
According to police, Morgan opened fire with his service weapon when officers tried to arrest him, which caused them to shoot him 28 times. His family, however, very much doubts those claims.
“Four white officers and one black Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad police man with his weapon on him — around the corner from our home — and he just decided to go crazy? No. That’s ludicrous,” Morgan’s wife, Rosalind Morgan, told the Sun-Times.
She was not the only person to doubt CPD’s side of the story. A Change.org petitionsigned by more than 2,600 people called for all charges against Morgan to be dropped, and now Occupy Chicago is getting involved.
“After being left for dead, he survived and was then charged with attempted murder of the four white officers who brutalized him,” Occupy wrote on their website, adding that Morgan was found not guilty on three counts, including discharging his weapon. The same jury that cleared him of opening fire on the officers, however, deadlocked on a charge of attempted murder — and another jury found him guilty in January.
That jury was not allowed to hear that Morgan had been acquitted of the other charges.
Protesters and Morgan’s family say the second trial amounted to double jeopardy, and claim officers have gone to great lengths to obstruct justice in the case:
- Howard Morgan’s van was crushed and destroyed without notice or cause before any forensic investigation could be done.
- Howard Morgan was never tested for gun residue to confirm if he even fired a weapon on the morning in question.
- The State never produced the actual bullet proof vest worn by one of the officers who claimed to have allegedly taken a shot directly into the vest on the morning in question. The State only produced a replica.
“If they can do this and eliminate double jeopardy and your constitutional rights, then my God, I fear for every Afro-American — whether they be male or female — in this corrupt unjust system,” Morgan’s wife told the Sun-Times.
Howard Morgan will be sentenced Thursday. He faces 80 years in prison.