01/15/14- Roland Martin talks with Rosalind Morgan, the wife of ex-cop Howard Morgan, who was shot 28 times by officers but sentenced to 40 years in prison. The Morgan family is currently attempting to have his sentence appealed. The family is being represented by Attorney Ben Crump.
Crump and Mrs. Morgan joined Roland Martin on the Tom Joyner Morning Show to discuss the latest details surrounding the troubling story. Read the entire interview below.
ROLAND MARTIN : Tom, Sybil, J, I hope all is well with you this morning. I spent three years as executive editor of the Chicago Defender and there was one story that was utterly perplexing to me, the one that we covered the most. It is the case of Howard Morgan, the former Chicago police officer who was later a detective for the Burlington Northern Santé Fe Railroad who was shot 28 times by four white Chicago police officers. And the jury convicted him of attempted murder. The appeals court right now is considering his case. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
And joining us this morning is his wife Rosalind, but also our good friend Ben Crump who is now working with the family as well on this case. I want to go to Rosalind first. Rosalind, this was a stunning story. It took place on February 21st, 2005 and Howard says he was driving down a one way street. Cops pulled him out of the car. He told them he was a police officer; they didn’t believe him, began to beat him and then opened fire. Was it 21 times in the chest and seven times in the back he was shot?
Rosalind Morgan: It was 21 times in the back and seven times in the front.
ROLAND MARTIN : So 21 times in the back, seven times in the chest, and they claim he was trying to assault them.
Rosalind Morgan: Yes.
ROLAND MARTIN : First of all the fact that he is still alive is a stunning itself.
SYBIL WILKES : It’s a miracle.
ROLAND MARTIN : And so the appeals court is considering the appeal. Is he trying to get it thrown out? Get it reversed? Exactly what is he trying to achieve with the appeal?
Rosalind Morgan: Prayerfully, we are trying to achieve that the conviction will be reversed prayerfully. So at this point Attorney Crump would know more about that aspect of it than myself.
ROLAND MARTIN : Ben, one of the things about this story that is stunning is that a number of the bullets that were fired also hit his van. The cops destroyed the van?
Rosalind Morgan: Yes, they destroyed the van.
BEN CRUMP: While he was in the hospital shackled to a bed.
ROLAND MARTIN : So they destroyed evidence?
BEN CRUMP: They destroyed evidence. They never had the bullet proof vest that alleges one of the officers was shot. They produced a replica. And if we know anything about court that you have to have the evidence against you in a court of law. And so, so many things were done that boggles the mind in this case. I’ve said, Roland, he was shot 28 times in the street but the worst shot came in that courtroom from the judge and the justice system. Howard Morgan was 60 years old when he was sentenced to a 40 year sentence, essentially a death sentence, Roland.
SYBIL WILKES : Just for clarity, the first round of the trial he was found not guilty of battery or discharging a firearm, right?
BEN CRUMP: Exactly.
Rosalind Morgan: Yeah.
SYBIL WILKES : So they re-tried him because they weren’t satisfied with that?
BEN CRUMP: Sybil, they were hung on attempted murder, and that’s what boggles the mind. If they found him not guilty of not discharging the firearm, and not guilty of battery, how can you find me guilty of attempted murder?
SYBIL WILKES : Right.
ROLAND MARTIN : Right.
ROLAND MARTIN : So Ben, the same prosecutor in the first case, prosecuted this case and it was the same judge the second time around.
SYBIL WILKES : Which doesn’t even seem right.
BEN CRUMP: And as Ms. Morgan and her family shared with me, the judgment, the basis for the appeal, the judge would not let them ask the jury about police misconduct and whether police could have racial bias. So that was a big part of the appeal because if they would’ve got into those things we’ve might’ve got a fair jury. And there was an independent witness, Tom and Sybil, I’m sure you know, Roland, that said they pulled Mr. Morgan out of his car. Mr. Morgan wasn’t going down a one way road. And so essentially he was stopped for driving while black. But the biggest thing, he’s a police officer. And if this can happen to a black police officer with 22 years of experience with his prestige in the community, what about our little boys who are driving while black?
SYBIL WILKES : Well, we have that, I mean, in Chicago.
ROLAND MARTIN : Rosalind, how is Howard doing? It’s been, what? Eight years now he’s been in prison?
Rosalind Morgan: He was taken into custody January the 27th of 2012.
ROLAND MARTIN : Twenty-twelve?
Rosalind Morgan: Yes, he’s right now in Wixom prison.
TOM JOYNER : And what’s his physical condition after being shot 28 times?
Rosalind Morgan: His physical condition is not well at all. And the majority of the time he’s very cold. He has to sleep in his clothes due to the heat in the system there, it’s not warm enough. And when a person has to sleep in their clothes with one blanket on them, it’s very difficult for Mr. Morgan, because he’s not getting the proper medical treatment that he should have. And he tries very hard to persevere.
My husband does not deserve that. He’s a beautiful man. I’ve been fighting this for almost nine years, February the 21st of 2014 it will be nine years. It has been a downhill mess for my family. And my husband is a good man. We’ve been married a long time. We have two children and three grandchildren. And I pray that he will be able to come assist with his grandchildren, be with our family, our church family, and he doesn’t deserve that.
It changed my entire life. My husband was on his way home, around the corner from our home, I don’t believe, you can never make me believe my husband was driving down a one way street, because this is just inconceivable. And I just don’t believe that. He said he’s innocent. I believe, him of course.
BEN CRUMP: The evidence shows he’s innocent.
Rosalind Morgan: The evidence shows that and I’m so grateful …
TOM JOYNER : It’s amazing this case has to be appealed.
SYBIL WILKES : It’s Chicago.
ROLAND MARTIN : You’re found not guilty of discharging a weapon.
SYBIL WILKES : That’s crazy.
TOM JOYNER : That is crazy.
ROLAND MARTIN : That is guilty of attempted murder. Unbelievable. Shot 28 times.
BEN CRUMP: There’s a petition on Change.org that we need everybody to sign because this state attorney made a decision, alleged officer, made a decision to try him again. After the first trial they could’ve walked away. But they wanted to show the community who was standing up, who was in charge and they are always going to cover for the police. And that’s why we have to fight.
ROLAND MARTIN : Also Tom, Howard Morgan was never tested for gun residue to confirm if he even fired a weapon that morning.