National News

Trial of officer shot 28 times, reopens wounds

By Starla Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jan 30, 2012 - 11:06:15 AM

What's your opinion on this article?

CHICAGO ( - The controversial second trial of Howard Morgan, a former Chicago police officer, began Jan. 17 with community leaders and supporters monitoring the judicial process closely. Mr. Morgan is being retried on four counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated battery with a firearm related to an incident that happened almost seven years ago.

On February 21, 2005 while on his way home from work as a senior patrolman for the Burlington Northern Railroad, Mr. Morgan, was shot 28 times by Chicago police after being pulled over for an alleged traffic violation. Mr. Morgan was licensed to carry his firearm for the scope of his employment and had it on at the time of the shooting.

The four White officers involved said when they attempted to subdue him, a struggle ensued and Mr. Morgan, who is Black allegedly fired his weapon at them. Mr. Morgan contends it was the officers that were the aggressors and he attempted to inform them he was a peace officer. The first trial in 2007 resulted in an acquittal on two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm. Two of the officers sustained minor injuries. None of the officers were charged with any wrongdoing.

The jury deadlocked on another count of aggravated battery with a firearm and four counts of attempted murder. Judge Clayton Crane declared a mistrial on the remaining counts and ordered a new trial. Judge Crane is also presiding over the second trial.

Attorney’s Herschella Conyers and Randolph N. Stone, both clinical professors at the University of Chicago Law School are representing Mr. Morgan in this trial. Ms. Conyers told The Final Call it is the prosecution’s job to pursue charges once they are filed.

“Obviously their assessment of the event is altogether different than our assessment of the event and Mr. Morgan’s telling of it,” said Atty. Conyers.

“Howard Morgan didn’t shoot anybody. That’s it. Howard Morgan did not shoot anybody that night and any other night for that fact. Howard Morgan did not shoot these officers,” added Atty. Conyers when asked what was the crux of the defense’s case.

Cases alleging misconduct, racial profiling and abuse by Chicago Police are nothing new to the Black community here. There are many that argued had Mr. Morgan been White, the officers would have handled the situation differently. Community activists and several local groups are closely monitoring the second trial and have attended proceedings including members of the Nation of Islam.

Mr. Morgan’s wife Rosalind has been by his side through the entire ordeal and is thankful for the tremendous show of support.

“For the community to come out and support us in this uncomfortable setting, it lets me know that unity is still there and we have to keep the door open to unity,” said Mrs. Morgan.

Mrs. Morgan said physically, sitting through this second trial has been “very trying and very painful” for her husband who still suffers residual effects from the bullet wounds. According to Mrs. Morgan, 21 of the 28 bullet wounds struck the back of his body from the neck down to the buttocks.

“Psychologically, it’s very traumatic to go through it a second time and you hear the erroneous information that is given again. But on this time they’re so eager, those that sought to kill him…when you read their faces up there on the witness stand, we have we didn’t get you the first time so we’re determined to get you now. And for Mr. Morgan to sit there and endure this injustice all over again, I know that God has a purpose,” said Mrs. Morgan.

If found guilty, Mr. Morgan, 60, a married father of two and a grandfather could be sentenced up to 80 years in prison said Atty. Conyers. It is anticipated the prosecution will rest its case sometime during the last full week in January then the defense will present its case.

Related news:

Mistrial declared for former cop shot 28 times by police (FCN, 06-01-2007)