Howard Morgan

Sep 3, 2013

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Howard Morgan hospital





Who is Howard Morgan?

Howard Morgan, was a 13-year policeman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in 2005. He was a Chicago Policeman for 8 ½ years before that. He is African-American.  He was shot 28 times by four white rookie Chicago police officers in February 2005.  The cops who shot him were never charged.

What happened to Howard Morgan in February, 2005?

According to Morgan he was driving to his family home in Lawndale when he was pulled over by two police squad cars.  Four white policemen approached his mini-van with guns drawn, pulled him out, and threw him to the ground.  He told them he was a police officer.  Although Morgan carried a gun for his job.  One of the policemen yelled “gun,” and all four opened fire.  After a few shots Morgan lost consciousness.  When the shooting stopped Morgan had been shot 28 times. Although the only non-police witness to the crime testified that she never saw Morgan holding or firing a weapon, all but one of the bullets in its magazine was fired.

After extensive and major surgery, he awoke two days later in Mt. Sinai Hospital, shackled to his bed. He learned he was being charged with four counts of attempted murder of all four police officers, three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm against three of them, and one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm against the fourth.  After two trials – the first resulting in acquittals on three of the charges – Morgan was convicted and is now serving a minimum of 40 years in prison.  He is permanently physically handicapped and in constant pain as a result of the injuries he suffered at the hands of the police. He won’t be eligible for release until 2045, when he will be 94 years old.

Why Howard Morgan deserves a new trial

Double jeopardy

  • At his first trial in 2007 Morgan was acquitted of two of the three charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and the only charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm.  Retried on the remaining charges, all of which required that he had discharged a firearm, violated the U. S. Constitution.

The second jury

  • The conduct of the police was central to Morgan’s defense.  However, the court barred the defense from questioning potential jurors attitudes toward police and whether they believed police officers ever treated people differently based on race.
  • Peremptory challenges by the prosecution removed all African Americans from the second jury. Two African American alternates were not allowed to participate in deliberations.
  • The second jury deliberated only 3 hours on a late Friday afternoon, after 9 days of testimony. Judge Clayton Crane told them they could not leave until they decided the case.

Disallowed evidence

  • In the second trial, Judge Crane would not allow the defense to mention that Morgan had been acquitted by the first jury on three of the original charges.
  • In the second trail the defense was not allowed to even mention that there had been an earlier trial.
  • In the second trail the defense was not allowed to point out to the jury that in all the police evidence photographs of the crime scene the lights on Morgan’s min-van are ON, even though the police swore they were OFF.

Mishandled evidence

  • Howard Morgan’s van, shown riddled with bullets in police evidence photographs, was towed to the Chicago Auto Pound. In April 2005 it was crushed and destroyed without notice, and Morgan’s defense had no access to it. No detailed forensic examination was made on it.

Jury intimidation and inflammatory closing arguments by the Prosecution

  • More than 25 armed, uniformed police – including the ones who shot Morgan 28 times – packed the courtroom on the last day of the trial.
  • In its closing argument the prosecution inflamed emotions of jurors saying that Morgan would have preferred memorials to dead police officers rather than testimony from survivors.
  • In closing the prosecution said that “Every bullet [Morgan] got was justifiably fired at him. Every bullet he got, he asked for..”


Free Howard Morgan

At the very least Howard Morgan should be eligible for bail pending appeal!

The Appellate Court of Illinois First District can receive amicus curiae briefs in support of Howard Morgan’s demand for a new trial.

People should write to Gov. Quinn demanding that he should immediately grant Howard Morgan a pardon, without waiting for the Appellate Court.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Acting U. S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro should immediately launch a thorough investigation of the crime that was committed against Howard Morgan.

We need police accountability

Howard Morgan’s case is a window into the racist, corrupt criminal justice system. Along with the police murders of Flint Farmer, Rekia Boyd, Dakota Bright, Ricky Bradley, Develt Bradford, Marquise Sampson, and 57 other Black and Latino men and women in the past four years, the case of Howard Morgan demands enacting legislation establishing and empowering an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC).

How can you help?

Write to Gov. Quinn urging him to grant executive clemency to Howard Morgan.

Write to Howard Morgan supporting his struggle and that of his family.  Prayers and Letters of greeting may be sent to Mr. Morgan at

Howard Morgan, M28454
Dixon Correctional Center
2600 N. Brinton Avenue
Dixon, IL 61021

Most important is to join the movement to stop these abuses by the police and prosecutors.  Join the movement for Police Accountability – passage of a law empowering an elected CPAC. For information go to

Prepared by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, 1325 S. Wabash Ave. Suite 105, Chicago IL 60605, 312-939-2750 [email protected],