That is the sentence Howard Morgan (pictured) received on April 5 from Cook County Circuit Court Judge Clayton J. Crane, after the former Chicago police officer was convicted of the attempted murder of four Chicago police officers.
The paradox is that Morgan, 61, survived after receiving 28 gunshot wounds, including 21 to the back and 7 to the front, following a much-disputed encounter in 2005, where he awakened shackled to a hospital bed.
Since then, his wife, Rosalind, has worked tirelessly for his freedom as if it was her full-time job. She doesn’t mind, though, because, she says, he’s the victim. She hopes to accumulate 100,000 signatures on a Change.org petition calling for his freedom. She says she plans to present it to President Barack Obama.
“Forty years is a wrongful conviction, especially when you are innocent,” she told NewsOne. “We are reaching out to everyone to help overturn the conviction, including, the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Governor.”
She said that if people ignore her husband’s plight, the nation might as well turn its back on Trayvon Martin’s case.
“If you don’t receive a fair trial in the United of America, where else can you go?” she asked. “I’m asking everyone all over the world to get involved in this injustice. If they can forget about Mr. Morgan, they might as well forget about justice for Trayvon Martin.”
University of Chicago law School professor Randolph N. Stone, one of Morgan’s attorneys, told NewsOne that the team is in the process of preparing to appeal the conviction. They’ve already filed a 32-point motion for an acquittal or a new trial, both of which were denied. Stone said the conviction violates double jeopardy laws.
This case has more twists and turns than a fast-paced mystery thriller.
Watch Howard Morgan’s wife discuss her husband’s story here:
The Huffington Post reports:
Morgan was off-duty as a detective for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad when he was pulled over for driving the wrong way on a one-way street on Feb 21, 2005, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. While both police and Morgan agree on that much, what happened next is a mystery.
According to police, Morgan opened fire with his service weapon when officers tried to arrest him, which caused them to shoot him 28 times. His family, however, very much doubts those claims.
“Four white officers and one Black Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad police man with his weapon on him — around the corner from our home — and he just decided to go crazy? No. That’s ludicrous,” Morgan’s wife, Rosalind Morgan, told the Sun-Times.
She was not the only person to doubt CPD’s side of the story. A Change.org petition signed by more than 2,600 people called for all charges against Morgan to be dropped, and now Occupy Chicago is getting involved.
“After being left for dead, he survived and was then charged with attempted murder of the four white officers who brutalized him,” Occupy wrote on their website, adding that Morgan was found not guilty on three counts, including discharging his weapon. The same jury that cleared him of opening fire on the officers, however, deadlocked on a charge of attempted murder — and another jury found him guilty in January.
That jury was not allowed to hear that Morgan had been acquitted of the other charges.
Protesters and Morgan’s family say the second trial amounted to double jeopardy, and claim officers have gone to great lengths to obstruct justice in the case.
“There are some excellent appellate issues involved in this case,” Stone said. “There is the double jeopardy issue. In light of the fact that he was tried and acquitted of some counts in 2007 and then retried again on some of the same counts that the jury hung on in the second trial in January, there is a problem. There are also some problems with jury selection issues, regarding the exclusion of African Americans in the second trial and a host of evidentiary issues, including the fact that the state destroyed some of the evidence prior to trial while Mr. Morgan was in the hospital.”
Stone said resolving this case fairly would go a long way in healing relations between the African-American community and Chicago police department, which has a long history of racial tension.
“Obviously this is another case involving law enforcement and a minority community, in particular an African-American neighborhood that is heavily patrolled on the West Side,” Stone said to NewsOne.
“From my perspective, it is helpful to use this case to reform police conduct and shine a light on how the criminal justice system works or doesn’t work so that we can begin to make changes and not just focus on the next sensational case. There are a number of cases involving police and African-American males, but we need to connect the dots so that we can make changes in law enforcement so that these incidents do not become routine.”
Sign the Morgan’s petition here.