Questions about ex-cop shooting remain unanswered

Rev. Paul Jakes calls for community involvement to solve the mystery of why police shot a retired policeman 25 times.

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By DELORES MCCAIN

In a bizarre incident, 52-year-old railroad detective and retired Chicago policeman, Howard Morgan remains in critical condition and shackled to his bed since receiving as many as 25 gunshots wounds, caused by Chicago police officers.

On Feb. 21, Howard Morgan, a retired Chicago police officer who has worked for the railroad as a law enforcement officer for the last 13 years, was shot 25 times by Chicago police on the city's West Side (Lawndale and 19th Street). According to a police spokesperson, Morgan became belligerent during a traffic stop and the officers were forced to shoot him more than two dozen times.

According to reports broadcast on ABC Channel 7, four patrolmen in two cars followed, then stopped a mini-van that had been going the wrong way down a one-way street with its lights off. The cops did not believe Morgan when he stated he was a retired police officer and was now a sworn railroad detective. Police allege Morgan reached in his waistband for an unregistered pistol and opened fire. A police spokesman says that three of the four cops returned fire with at least 23 shots and "possibly more." The spokesman also alleges Morgan fired 17 rounds at the officers and only stopped firing after his Glock semi-automatic pistol was empty.

Prior to losing conscious Morgan was alleged to have said, "They tried to rob me."

Rev. Paul Jakes and others have been in touch with Assistant U.S. Atty. Sergio E. Acosta attempting to get some answers regarding this "extreme" shooting incident. In a letter dated March 21 to the U.S. Attorney, "The case is disturbingly murky. At the very least the incident represents a glaring example of excessive use of force. It is difficult to get a clear picture of what occurred that evening without Morgan's testimony. It is also difficult to conceive of a situation that would merit 25 bullets. After seeing the results of other such investigations that have been conducted in Chicago, it is also difficult to trust that an unbiased, comprehensive investigation can be conducted."

March 26, a press conference was held at Old Saint Paul Church (531 S. Kedzie) to discuss the status of the victim, what responses have been received and to organize community involvement.

Currently, because Morgan remains in critical condition, the only version given has come from Chicago police. One of the questions is why Morgan continues to be shackle to his bed. Rev. Jakes and others have called for the immediate dismantling of the shackles since anyone with 25 gunshots wounds would probably be unable to escape.

The coalition of activists and ministers are awaiting a response from U.S. Attorney Acosta. They have requested that an independent federal investigation be conducted into this shooting and that Mayor Daley form an independent citizens' review board that would have the power to receive and investigate complaints as well as the power to subpoena.

One of the suggestions brought up at the meeting was trying to get Chicago police officers to come forward, especially officers who worked with Morgan during his time on the force. The problem of police officers standing up when issues like race and police brutality come up is almost unheard of. The "Blue Code of Silence" is still prevalent and officers do not want to jeopardize their pensions, etc. However, if one of their own is treated this way perhaps they might be more willing to take a stand.

Rev. Jakes is calling on the entire Chicago community to get involved and help to get a resolution to this extremely sad case. Contact Rev. Jakes at 773/531-2031.

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