The Worst Shot Came From The Justice System

The case of Howard Morgan

Chicago, Illinois

Imagine being put on trial for four counts of attempted murder, four counts of aggravated battery with a firearm against a police officer, and two counts of discharging a firearm.

The jury acquits you of the two counts of firing a firearm and four counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.  Logically, you would think that a finding of not guilty would also be entered on the charges of attempted murder, but the jury deadlocks on those charges.

According to your defense attorneys, ten jurors considered you not guilty of attempted murder, and two others would not agree.  The judge declares a mistrial.

Then imagine being put on trial again and the court orders that the second jury cannot know that the first jury acquitted you on the charges of discharging a firearm and aggravated battery.  The second jury enters a conviction for attempted murder, aggravated battery, and discharging a firearm.  You are sentenced to 100 years in total, but since one sentence is 40 years, the judge orders that your sentences run concurrent meaning, you will serve 40 years in prison.   At the age of 61, does it really make much difference?

Protesters and your family say that the second trial violated double jeopardy.

Okay, that started at what is now the present.  Let’s go to the beginning. 


Howard Morgan

On February 21, 2005, Howard Morgan was working as a senior patrol officer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, when he was on his way home from work.  He had been on that job since 1992 after serving 5 years as a Chicago police officer.  About a block from his destination, he was stopped by police for driving the wrong way on a one-way street with his headlights off.

The officers said that they tried to arrest Morgan when he pulled his service revolver and shot at them multiple times, hitting one of the officers.  The officers opened fire, shooting Morgan 28 times.  In addition to the 28 bullets that hit Morgan, many more were shot into the air, into Morgan’s van, and into the walls and furniture of nearby houses.  Morgan was shot 21 times in the back, and 7 times in the front.  At trial, one cop testified of standing over Morgan and firing a shot into his back. The cops thought Morgan was dead, but he wasn’t.

Howard Morgan hospitalMorgan was transported to Mt. Sinai hospital where his condition was reported critical. According to Phillip Zaret, a trauma surgeon who treated Morgan that night, Morgan had injuries to his neck, back, leg, liver, kidney, and colon.  He also had an open fracture to his left leg, and a fracture to his right arm.  Morgan awoke, handcuffed to a hospital bed.

Howard Morgan hospital 2It took him 7 months to recover.  During that time, he was transferred to Oak Forest County Hospital.  Judge Kathleen Mary Pantle set his bail at $2 million.  Judge Clayton Crane later upheld the $2 million bail despite requests from Morgan’s lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., that he be allowed lower bail to facilitate his recovery.  Morgan  requires assistance walking and regular medication.

Rosalind Morgan, Howard Morgan’s wife, was able to raise $12,000 in donations for her husband’s bail. The remaining $188,000 was donated by an anonymous donor.

The lone eyewitness who came forth, Charice Rush, testified at Morgan’s 2007 trial that she saw the officers “snatch” Morgan from his van and “force him onto one knee,” and that she heard one officer say, “oh shit, he has a gun” before the officers open fire, while Morgan was on the ground. Rush said she never saw Morgan fire a weapon.

Photographs of the van taken by police evidence technicians all showed that the van was parked with its lights on.

Chicago police officer Richard Pruger arrived at the scene after the shooting.  He said that the van’s headlights were on.

Chicago police officer Tom Mitchell arrived on the scene after the shooting.  He also testified that the van’s headlights were on.

Chicago police forensic investigator Maurice Henderson testified that when he arrived on the scene, the van’s headlights were on.

Howard Morgan was never tested for gun residue to confirm if he fired a weapon.

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. The State only produced a replica.

Only 3 of the 28 bullets taken from Morgan’s body were retained in evidence.  They did not say what happened to the other 25 bullets or if they had been kept. Some casings and bullets from Morgan’s firearm were presented, but it was argued that since the cops took Morgan’s gun from him before they fired, that they could have fired Morgan’s gun.

Morgan said he identified himself as a police officer to Chicago police officers John Wrigley and Timothy Finley, but that they didn’t believe him.  The next officers to pull in at the scene were Nicolas Olsen and Eric White.  Morgan says that he was dragged out of his van and forced to the ground.  As he tried to produce his identification, one officer noticed his service revolver, a Glock 9mm pistol, and yelled “gun!”  The gun was removed from Morgan’s waistband, and then they opened fire on him.

Morgan’s van was crushed and destroyed without notice or cause before any forensic investigation could be done.

In April 2012, Morgan stood trial again, with the same prosecutor, State Attorney Dan Groth Jr., and in front of the same judge, Clayton Crane.

Dan Groth Jr. is the son of Sergeant Daniel R. Groth Sr. who led the squad of Chicago Police Department raiders who killed Fred Hampton as he slept in his bed 43 years ago.


L-R: Howard Morgan, his wife Rosalind and Lionel Muhammad from the Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry. Photo:

Officer Finley testified that at 12:35 AM on February 21, 2005, he and Officer Wrigley heard a sound that they believed to be a gunshot. He said they saw a van going the wrong way down a one-way street with its lights off. The officers followed it through several stop signs, then pulled it over.

Finley says that he drew his gun as Morgan got out of his van. Finley and Wrigley were joined by Olsen and White. Finley testified that Morgan complied with an order to put his hands on the van, but then began to struggle while being patted down. Finley describes an extended gunfight, during which Morgan fired at the officers from the ground. When questioned about the bullets in Morgan’s back, Finley said that Morgan stood up and the officers were spread out, so Morgan turned around to shoot at them.

At Morgan’s sentencing, Officer John Wrigley yelled in court, “You shot me, Morgan. You came very close to taking my life. … you slandered our reputations as police officers. … you are a fraud.”  Wrigley was treated for a gunshot grazing wound to his left wrist.  It is not known whether the bullet came from Morgan’s gun, or from friendly fire.

Officers alleged that Morgan fired 17 rounds.  Three shell casings from Morgan’s gun were recovered at the scene. The other 14 are unaccounted for and his defense argued that the cops could have shot Morgan’s gun.

Olson was also treated at the hospital with a band-aid for a puncture wound to his right calf.  He did not turn-in his firearm to the Chicago police department for testing.

White had two weapons registered with the Chicago police department, but his revolver was not examined to see if it was fired at the scene.

None of the officers were swabbed for gun-shot residue.

Ted Pearson, Co-Chairperson of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, witnessed much of the trial testimony.  Upon learning of the verdict he said, “It is clear that this jury of ten white people and only two African Americans did not take any time to reviewing nine full days of testimony by witnesses for the prosecution or the defense.  They simply wanted to go home.”

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Clayton Crane immediately revoked Morgan’s bond and would not consider bond pending appeal.

I read the first 18 pages of the 36 page Appellate Court’s decision that denied Morgan’s appeal then scrolled to page 34. The Appellate Court said that Morgan’s constitutional rights (double-jeopardy), were not violated, holding;

“We find that defendant has failed to meet his burden of establishing that, in acquitting him of [aggravated discharge of a firearm] the jury necessarily determined that he did not discharge his firearm.”

The justices went on to say how the jury could have found that did not necessarily mean that they could decide that Morgan didn’t discharge his firearm.  UH???  What happened to reasonable doubt?

The order captures trial testimony, and from the officers, it was very contradictory.  The forensic witnesses had no answers; nobody could establish where anyone was standing while firing; they failed to conduct rod investigation of the path of the bullet holes in Morgan’s van, and the clerk sent certified mail to him to get his van from impound that was unsigned for and returned — because she didn’t know that he was in the hospital and under arrest.  So, they crushed the van.

Benjamin Crump

Attorney Benjamin Crump

Rosalind Morgan is represented by attorney Benjamin Crump, who after Morgan’s sentencing stated, “The reality of it is there is no way that we can let these inconsistent verdicts stand; to let this complete miscarriage of justice stand, and tell people to respect the judicial system.”

Morgan has filed another appeal based on what his attorneys and supporters say is double jeopardy in the 2012 retrial, and their allegations of destruction of evidence. They argue that the judge erred in the second trial by ruling that Morgan’s defense attorneys were barred from telling the jury of his acquittal on the gun and assault charges in the earlier trial.

There is a petition to Illinois Governor Quinn.

In an interview with Roland Martin, attorney Crump stated, “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.  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?”

Sources: NBC Chicago

Huffington Post

The Grio


The Examiner

Roland Martin Reports

Posted on 01/17/2014, in Cases, Howard Morgan, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. The victim is black……I’m stunned this happened.

    I would say that everything from any previous trial would be a matter of public knowledge, why would any previous not guilty verdicts be any different.

    Stunning……and it isn’t even FL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • racerrodig, if you have the time, please read the Appellate Court’s decision.

      Yeah, if it were Florida, maybe Zimmerman would be tried again for the same crime, uh? 🙂


      • This is a pretty involved case and there are some factual issues as to the actual events. That said as I read the law, if he is found not guilty of assault and battery and especially of discharging a firearm……how could he be retried on the other charges.

        As far as I know the not guilty verdicts are a matter of record and fact. You cannot dispute a juries finding. In civil cases lawyers try to get a “Judgement not withstanding the verdict” (JnoV in NJ) which is saying “the jury is stupid and got it wrong” I won a civil case in which the opposing counsel did that and the trial judge gave him the finger, so to speak, and he appealed it and then didn’t even show up for his own appeal…..(what a dipshit)

        I read most of it and I see that factually 19 rounds were fired by the cops and he had 28 bullet entrance wounds……looks like magic bullets to me, or did I misread that.


        • Racerrodig,

          read most of it and I see that factually 19 rounds were fired by the cops and he had 28 bullet entrance wounds……looks like magic bullets to me, or did I misread that.

          No, you didn’t misread. What happened is that one cop didn’t turn in his service revolver, so it was never examined in the investigation. Then, the prosecution had an ME come in and say that although there were 28 bullet wounds, it doesn’t mean there were 28 shots because some bullets may have passed through leaving exit wounds. And of course, the surgeon only retained 3 bullets. No one knows what happened to the rest.

          Also in the first trial, it was argued that the cop who said Morgan shot him did not report a bullet fragment falling out of his bullet proof vest until a month after the incident when it became clear that Morgan was going to live. The State did not produce that vest neither the bullet fragment.

          Now, all but two of the first jury members didn’t buy this and figured there was a cover-up, but the second jury did buy it. In this appeal, Morgan’s attorneys are arguing that the State destroyed evidence.


          • This is just another black eye to American Justice……nothing less. One cop didn’t have his gun turned in and it wasn’t examined and he didn’t get tested for gunpowder residue……some bad shit on this one.


  2. Xena, I appreciate your outstanding research and the time you put into it!

    How could those two people on that first jury of 12 members possibly find him guilty of attempted murder if those two jury members voted UNANIMOUSLY to acquit Howard Morgan of the two counts of firing a firearm AND four counts of aggravated battery with a firearm?!!

    What? Did those 2 jury members worry about Howard Morgan filing a civil suit against the city and the policemen that shot him? It just does NOT make sense!

    And, THEN to have the same judge and prosecutor in the second trial!

    AND, the judge IGNORING the double jeopardy law and NOT informing the second jury that Howard Morgan was ALREADY ACQUITED of the two counts of firing a firearm AND the four counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

    This is so WRONG!



    • Yahtzee, you’re thinking logically. When I read the Appellate Court’s decision, one of those two jurors in the first trial called a judge from her cell phone. She said that the judge did not return her call. That juror and another, then claimed that they were ill. This was after the jury had sent notes to the judge several times that they were deadlocked and the judge told them to continue deliberating.

      The logic is plain; i.e., if there was no aggravated battery with a firearm, and no discharge of a firearm, then there could be no attempted murder. In the re-trial, in order for the SA to get a guilty verdict on attempted murder, the court had to keep the acquittals secret from the jury.

      I remember what happened to Ed Harahan after Fred Hampton was murdered. SA Groth should never underestimate the power of voters in Cook County, IL. They have long memories. We are also the State that sends our governors to prison.


      • When I read the Appellate Court’s decision, one of those two jurors in the first trial called a judge from her cell phone. She said that the judge did not return her call.

        During deliberation?


        • Yahtzee,
          Yes, during deliberations. Pages 23-25 of the Appellate Court’s decision. The link is in the article above. Unbelievable.


  3. Uploaded on Feb 19, 2012
    The PCC Internet Broadcast Network Presents
    ‘The Howard Morgan Story’
    Chicago, IL: Howard Morgan, a former Chicago Policeman, shot 28 times by Chicago Policemen, was found guilty of attempt murder.

    The Rev. Harold E. Bailey, president of the PCC Network, and Maureen ‘Moe’ Forte’, taped 2-segments of ‘The Howard Morgan Story,’ where the victim Howard Morgan’s wife, Rosalind, gives an account of what she said took place with her husband.
    Howard Morgan miraculously lived and later and was acquitted in 2007 on two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm,
    Also giving an account of what took place in the Chicago/County Criminal Courts event is Brother Lionel Muhammad, student of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad’s tells of what he said the states attorney stated about the victim Howard Morgan during the court procedure…which was shocking!

    With more questions than answers: How can Howard Morgan be guilty of attempted murder, if he was acquitted for firing his gun in 2007?

    Morgan has no known criminal record and why has much of the main-stream press never carried the story. In earlier years, the only media personality to file an interview with Rosalind Morgan was Chinta Strausberg (The Strausberg Report) with the PCC Network.


  4. Published on Jun 23, 2012 by Ernestine Standberry
    International Prolife Federation presents Remember Office Howard Morgan (shot 28 times by 4 White Chicago Police Officers but is STILL ALIVE. Why was Howard Morgan sentenced 40 years when he was acquitted. My guests are wife of Officer Howard Morgan, Minister Rosalind Morgan and Rev. Dr. Sheila Turner.


  5. Charice Rush was the eye witness.


  6. towerflower

    I’m no lawyer but I’m still stumped how a jury could find him not guilty on two charges and then be retried for those same two charges. Fine, I could understand trying the attempted murder again but not the other two. Doesn’t make any sense to me and yes I agree if you are found not guilty of firing a weapon then how can you be charged with attempted murder with a firearm.


    • towerflower

      Doesn’t make any sense to me and yes I agree if you are found not guilty of firing a weapon then how can you be charged with attempted murder with a firearm.



  7. Are transcripts of both trials available?


    • Yahtzee

      Are transcripts of both trials available?

      Not that I can find online. For appeals, transcripts must be included with the record so I’m sure that there are transcripts, but just not made public.


  8. i think the media didn’t cover it for two reasons. one is the obvious political favor but the other is because the media always knew there was no chance he’d be acquitted. that multiple white cops backing each other would not only get away w. trying to murder a black cop,but the victim would be blamed and prosecuted and convicted, and he’d go away never to be heard from again. who cares if there was 10 eye witnesses.
    the media wouldn’t want to talk about it, much less talk about it honestly because they don’t want to be on the losing side.

    this is so scary.


    • BTW, Xena you’ve been saying zimmerman’s booboos were old, well this guy also mentions zimmerman’s booboos being old & compares them to his ACTUAL booboos.


      • Hey Shannon. Thanks for the link. From the article;

        As you will see in the attached video, it seems that Zimmerman does have a minor head injury. However, it seems — for the most part — to be an old head injury.

        Yep. A close-up shows there were scalps around the boo-boo’s. The blood on his head when the EMTs arrived was dry. Now think about that with the high humidity and rain. The blood on Zimmerman’s head was not fresh, coming from open boo-boo’s. The stain of Trayvon’s blood on ZImmerman’s jacket cuff indicates that Zimmerman had his hand in Trayvon’s wound. Selma saw Zimmerman get off Trayvon and rub his hand on his head. The EMT’s washed blood off Zimmerman’s hands.

        Getting to the cop shop, he was allowed to go into the washroom unescorted. All he had to do then was pick at the scalps to start them bleeding.

        The next morning, the physician’s assistant said that the boo-boo’s were healing. She recommended nothing more than keeping them clean with soap and water.

        Zimmerman has to live with that. He has no conscience, but Trayvon’s blood cries out for justice.


  9. Right, racer. Don’t forget that they did not rod the van and crushed it. Destruction of evidence is very clear in this case and I hope that Morgan prevails on appeal. He should not be sitting in jail waiting on the decision either.


  10. It was important for me to include the Appellate Court’s decision for several reasons. One is that it recaps testimony and evidence entered at trial. One cop alleged that he was shot in the chest, and the bullet stopped by his bullet proof vest. The fragment purportedly fell out of the vest while the cop was at the hospital getting his wrist treated for a graze.

    This was the only cop who alleged that he had been shot by Morgan.

    The first trial argument was successful that the graze could have come from friendly fire. Additionally, that cop did make the allegation about the fragment and his bullet proof vest until a month after the incident.

    The State did not produce the bullet proof vest. Thus, there was no evidence to support that Morgan shot at or actually shot the cop.

    We shouldn’t forget that Morgan himself was a cop. Had he wanted to put a real hurting on the other cops, he would have been a better shot than grazing and aiming for chests that he had good reason to believe were protected.

    This is how we benefit from reading, regardless of who is involved in cases. Whether by ignorance or deliberate lies, some people seem to believe that whenever Attorney Benjamin Crump is involved, it’s okay for them to make up their own facts.


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