By Starla Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from the Final Call –
CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) - It was a verdict family, friends and supporters of Howard Morgan did not want to hear, but are determined to fight: Guilty.
Mr. Morgan who is Black, was accused of trying to shoot four White police officers in 2005, just minutes from his home and after being pulled over for a traffic stop on the city’s West Side.
Mr. Morgan was hospitalized six months and underwent several surgeries for injuries he sustained after the officers shot him 28 times during the wee hours of the morning.
During closing arguments, prosecutors painted Mr. Morgan as a reckless man who started the fire fight afraid officers would discover his Firearm Owners Identification card had expired. Defense attorneys argued Mr. Morgan did not fire his weapon at all and that the four young officers with a total of 10 years law enforcement experience, simply overreacted and panicked.
Attorney Herschella Conyers, one of two University of Chicago law professors representing Mr. Morgan argued the prosecution’s theory was “speculative” at best. “Howard Morgan is not a gangster,” she told the jury.
Dan Groth, one of two assistant state attorney’s prosecuting the case, said the four officers showed restraint since Mr. Morgan sustained no bullet wounds in the head. “Every bullet he got, he earned,” said Mr. Groth. The Fraternal Order of Police website praised the assistant state attorney’s for delivering “justice for our own,” in reference to the four officers.
“If they can do this to Mr. Morgan, double jeopardy, and get away with it. Bring a not guilty back into court and retry him on it, then you might as well put your legs up there and be castrated. It’s a castration for Black men and I mean it. It’s just that deadly,” said Mr. Morgan’s wife Rosalind, in response to the Jan. 27 verdict. Jurors deliberated less than four hours before a guilty verdict against the former Chicago police officer.
This was the second trial for Mr. Morgan who was acquitted in 2007 on two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm. The jury in the first trial deadlocked on the remaining counts and the judge ordered a new trial (see The Final Call Vol. 31 No. 17). Atty. Conyers said there will be an appeal.
“Obviously we were very disappointed in the verdict. The appeal will be taken and we’ll keep trying to get him out,” Ms. Conyers told The Final Call. Atty. Conyers said her client was very disappointed but not deterred. “Mr. Morgan is a man of faith and I think he’s drawing on that faith to see him through these dark days,” added Atty. Conyers.
Bond for Mr. Morgan, 60, a man with no prior criminal history was immediately revoked said his wife Rosiland. After being allowed to hug her husband for a few seconds, he was immediately taken to Cook County Jail.
Mr. Morgan’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21, exactly seven years to the day he was shot by police. There has been an outpouring of support as well as outrage from members of the Black community and those who argue a grave miscarriage of justice has occurred.
“We realize that this is just round one of the fight. We’ve got round two, three, four, five, six all the way to 15 rounds. A fight goes to 15 rounds so we’re not going to give up and we’re not going to give in,” said Lionel Muhammad, an assistant with the Nation of Islam’s Prison Reform Ministry.
Mrs. Morgan is refusing to give up and is spearheading efforts to keep her husband’s battle in the public. “I’m not letting this die … how would you feel if it happened to you or your brother or your husband?” she asked.
Supporters plan on appealing to local, state and federal politicians and the entire community over what they deem a tremendous injustice and are asking those hoping to assist to contact email@example.com.