After a years long battle, Howard Morgan (pictured), a Chicago cop shot by White officers, was freed last week after outgoing Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn commuted the 40-year prison sentence, MSNBC reports.
“Right now I’m just concentrating on clearing my name,” Morgan told the news outlet, “because I’m absolutely innocent of those charges.”
Morgan was freed a week ago today after Quinn commuted his 40-year prison sentence. The sentence was one of 43 clemency petitions that Quinn, a Democrat, granted Monday just before leaving office. Morgan is now working with lawyers, including Benjamin Crump, to have his conviction reversed, the report says:
“He was no criminal when I married him, and he’s no criminal now,” said Morgan’s wife, Rosalind Morgan, who led the fight for his freedom.
“Right now I’m just concentrating on clearing my name,” Morgan said, “because I’m absolutely innocent of those charges.”
The commutation comes after Morgan, a former Chicago police officer who was working as a railroad detective, was arrested in 2005 following a traffic violation for driving the wrong way on a one-way street near his home, the report says. A scuffle ensued and Morgan was surrounded by four officers, who began firing when they spotted his service weapon. Police said Morgan was belligerent and fired first, while Morgan said police started firing as soon as they saw his gun, and denied firing a shot, the report notes. He was shot 21 times in the back and seven times about the body.
At a 2007 trial, Morgan was found not guilty of discharging his firearm, but there was no verdict on a charge of attempted murder. At a second trial, a jury convicted Morgan on the attempted murder charge and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Quinn’s decision to commute his sentence has angered police union leaders and one of the officers wounded in the incident. But Crump said it was only fair, MSNBC writes:
“What Governor Quinn did was not secretive or mysterious in any way,” said Crump. “It’s what the constitution of this state gives him the power to do.”
“There were thousands and thousands of people who signed the petition after they looked on the record as to what took place,” Crump added.
“What I really believe this is is an example of driving while black,” said Crump. “And we don’t need to go much further than that.”